[guest post by JVW]
I’ve been working up a new joke. It goes like this:
Q: What’s the difference between Melania Trump and Kamala Harris?
A: Melania already had a highly-paid and prestigious job when she started sleeping with a powerful and well-connected man.
Last week Dana posed the incisive question of whether Senator Kamala Harris’s eager willingness to believe Jussie Smollett’s self-staged hate attack story undermines her credibility as one to whom the rule of law is allegedly sacrosanct. Along with her obvious self-serving hypocrisy, one aspect of Ms. Harris’s past that deserves scrutiny is certainly her ties to a corrupt Democrat Party machine in San Francisco, which helped to launch her along the path that has brought her within spitting distance of her party’s Presidential nomination.
Let’s lay out the facts as they are known. Kamala Harris graduated from the Hastings College of Law (a University of California affiliated school located in San Francisco) in 1990 and later that year was admitted to the State Bar of California. She then took a job as Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, which encompasses Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Fremont, and other East Bay cities and towns. Today the annual salary for a Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County ranges from a high of $211,515 to a low of $98,172 depending upon factors such as years of service and the profile of cases to which the employee is assigned. This is an inexact estimation to be sure, but if we adjust those salary figures to the cost of living in 1991 (and it seems as though Alameda County salaries are pegged to cost-of-living considerations) by running them through the Bureau of Labor’s CPI calculator, the maximum salary back then would be $113,115 and the minimum salary would be $52,496. Again, I acknowledge that the reality of salaries 28 years ago might have been substantially different for whatever reason, but without researching the exact pay scales of 1991 I think this as reasonable a way to estimate as any.
So let’s assume that in January 1991, first-year Deputy District Attorney of Alameda County Kamala Harris was making somewhere in the $52.5k to $55k range. As we all know, though we are being admonished that mentioning it is gravely sexist, in 1994 the 29-year-old Ms. Harris began a romantic relationship with then Speaker of the California State Assembly Willie Brown, a married (though separated) man more than twice her age. The Speaker of the California Assembly is, as you can imagine, quite a powerful and well-connected position, and in short order Ms. Harris found herself with a temporary six-month appointment to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Assuming that she received half of the annual stipend back then of $97,088, the young Assistant DA would have made $48,500 for her — ahem, ahem — half-year of “service,” a nice chunk of change considering her regular salary at the time was probably no more than $70,000. After her temporary appointment ended, Boyfriend Brown hooked her up with a seat on the California Medical Assistance Commission which paid $72,000 per year, and likely doubled her annual income. Let me acknowledge that I do not know anything about either organization (the Medical Assistance Commission has since shut down), let alone how their respective boards operated, but my suspicion is that staff did most of the grunt work while board members gathered a few times a year for meetings where they rubber-stamped their subordinates’ efforts.
Beyond the moral distaste, I don’t care all that much if some creepy old codger finds himself a young and nubile side-piece and uses his wealth and connections to entice her into a bit of the ol’ hey-hey, consensually of course; nor do I care all that much if some nubile young honey tempts some foolish old Romeo into showering her with gifts in return for various and sundry carnal delights. Furthermore, I’ve no real objection to Willie Brown helping to launch her on her political path by connecting her with the corrupt and awful San Francisco Democrat machine. Nevertheless, I do expect the two of them not to present me with the bill. Jeff Bezos apparently self-funds his dalliances. Donald Trump either pays out of his own pockets for his libidinous indiscretions or he somehow passes the costs along to business associates or shareholders (and if he is committing fraud then I am fine with prosecuting him). John Edwards was lucky enough to have his patron Bunny Mellon fund his Clintonian excursions. But Willie Brown passed along the costs of his humpy-humpy to the taxpayers of our state, and Ms. Harris seems to have had no problem accepting the windfall, earned though it may be in ignominy.
We certainly don’t need any intimate details of the Harris-Brown relationship, but I don’t think it would be at all out of line to ask Candidate Harris if she really felt that she was deserving of those paid appointments, or if they were in fact for services rendered. Naturally I doubt that any of the mainstream news organizations will have the gumption to ask, leaving us to draw our own conclusions.