Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown admitted in a column for the San Francisco Chronicle in January that he helped kick-start Sen. Kamala Harris’ political career. But it looks like the perks Harris received are even more extensive than once believed.
According to the Washington Examiner, Harris was appointed to numerous roles by Brown that she was less-than-qualified for — and she didn’t even put in the work while she was in those roles.
In 1994, Brown, who was at the time serving as California’s Assembly speaker, appointed Harris, 30 years his junior, to a lucrative position on the California Medical Assistance Commission that reportedly launched the future senator’s political career and earned her a cool $70,000 per year.
He also appointed Harris to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, where she earned an annual salary of $97,000.
These appointments spurred controversy at the time, given that the two were publicly dating, and again in January, when Brown acknowledged in his op-ed that he may have “influenced” Harris’ career.
Slacking on the job
But even worse than mere favoritism at play, the Washington Examiner reported on Saturday that Harris didn’t show up a whopping 20% of Medical Assistance Commission’s bi-monthly meetings over the four years she served on the board, even as she continued to collect the paychecks.
Indeed, according to the Examiner, the medical commission, which was comprised of just seven members, was well-known at that time for being a sort of “patronage” job that served as a sort of political reward.
Moreover, the commission, which provided oversight for the state-subsidized MediCal insurance program, ostensibly required members to have “experience in management of hospital services, risk management insurance or prepaid health programs, the delivery of health services, the management of county health systems, and a representative of recipients of service.”
But Harris, just a young lawyer at the time, had no such experience. The closest thing on her resumé to the health care industry was reportedly a volunteer position with a hospital fundraising organization.
Boost from Brown
At now age 54, Kamala Harris touts her status as an independent woman who built up her career on her own — but according to this new report, that characterization is far from the truth.
At the very least, Harris was the recipient of special attention and “patronage” from a powerful politician she dated in the early years of her career.
It’s hard to say where she’d be without Brown’s help, but if she wanted to seem like a self-made political mogul, she could have at least bothered to show up to the meetings she was being paid to attend.