Kamala Harris Cut Accused Sexual Harasser a Sweet Plea Deal as AG

Photo of Kamala Harris onstage.
A plea deal inked by Sen. Kamala Harris' office in 2013 allowed alleged sexual harasser, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, to avoid prison time. (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)
Sen. Kamala Harris boasts about her record as a prosecutor, but when it came to a fellow Democratic pol accused of sexually harassing multiple women, the former California AG let him off light.

Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris flies her hypocrite flag proudly and often. One recent example: The California senator’s July 18 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where she touted her long record as a prosecutor, including her six years as San Francisco’s District Attorney and six as Attorney General for the Golden State.

“I will prosecute the case against four more years of Donald Trump,” she told Kimmel at one point. “And there is a rap sheet to be prosecuted.”

She explained how she “took on predators” as prosecutor, such as “big banks that preyed on homeowners,” drug companies, for-profit colleges, and those who have preyed on “women and children.”

Photo of Bob Filner.
Mayor of San Diego Bob Filner at a 2013 event, before his resignation from office. (Port of San Diego via Flickr)

Now she plans to take down the “predator” in the White House.

“I’m going to tell you something about predators,” Harris said. “The thing about them . . . by their very nature and character and instinct, they prey on the vulnerable. They prey on those they believed to be weak. They prey on those who are in need of help . . . And this is the kind of characteristic that we see in the President.”

But like her claim to having been a “progressive prosecutor,” this characterization of herself as a an angel of vengeance is belied by her history as first San Francisco’s, and later, California’s top cop. In an emblematic case from six years ago that was recently re-examined by the Washington Examiner, Harris, then California’s AG, cut a sweetheart plea deal with fellow Democrat and then San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, who had been accused of numerous instances of sexual harassment against women.

Filner, a 71 year-old former congressman, was forced to resign in August 2013, following six weeks of public allegations that he had sexually harassed around 20 women, among them a retired Navy rear admiral, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, a college dean, a 67-year-old grandmother, and Filner’s own communications chief. The women accused Filner of touching and kissing them without their consent, slobbering on them, making crude sexual advances and even placing them in what the media referred to as “Filner headlocks.”

Following Filner’s resignation, Republican San Diego County Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a political rival of Filner’s, recused herself from the prosecution, so Harris caught the case.  In October 2013, the AG’s office announced a plea deal with Filner, in which the disgraced former mayor copped to one felony count of false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery. As punishment, he would serve three months of house arrest and three years of probation.

Harris, who had endorsed Filner’s 2012 campaign for mayor, condemned Filner’s actions in a press release as both “criminal” and “an extreme abuse of power.” Predictably, the AG spun the plea deal as a triumph of justice.

“This prosecution is about consequence and accountability,” Harris stated in the release. “No one is above the law.”

But as the Examiner points out, the deal had, and still has, its critics.

For instance, in a piece on the deal for the non-profit news outlet, Voice of San Diego, reporter Lisa Halverstadt detailed how the plea arrangement benefited Filner. The disgraced ex-mayor not only avoided the public embarrassment of a trial, he dodged a possible five years in prison on the charges at hand. He also avoided sexual battery charges and joining the sex offender registry.

The Examiner quotes Maya Raghu, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, on the case. She said that in “serious instances” of sexual harassment, there should be “serious consequences.”

Raghu added: “Powerful people can afford high-profile legal counsel that others don’t have access to. People [such as Filner] know how to leverage the system in their favor.”

Asked about the Filner affair, Harris’ campaign told the Examiner that she was “broadly praised” for the plea deal, which in 2013 drew plaudits from Dumanis, among others.

But in spite of Harris’ kid-glove treatment of Filner, the Examiner points out that Harris has been highly critical of departing Labor Secretary Alex Acosta “for his role in Jeffery Epstein’s 2008 plea deal, going back to his days as U.S. attorney in Florida.”

The Examiner notes that the Filner and Epstein cases “don’t command a direct comparison,” as Epstein’s victims were underage. Still, each scandal involves a powerful man who broke the law and received a lighter sentence in part due to his influence and wealth.

Harris recently claimed on The View that Epstein, a financier and convicted sex offender, merely got a “simple, very light pat on the hand” as part of a plea deal approved by Acosta. But that description could be applied to the Filner deal as well, over which Harris had final say.

Similarly, Harris’ other remarks to The View co-hosts on the Epstein case could describe the Filner prosecution, too. In them, she referred to her time as a line prosecutor before she became San Francisco’s DA.

“I personally prosecuted child sexual assault cases, and they are some of the most difficult cases to prosecute,” she said. “The thing I found so troubling, disheartening and really unbelievable was the way that Acosta has described the challenge he had. Because it’s like saying it’s really difficult to make an omelet. Well, then get out [of] the kitchen, if you don’t know how to cook.”

The problem with Harris is that though liberals see her as having sort of an Obama-like appeal, and though she’s bent over backwards during her run for POTUS to tell progressives what they want to hear on any number of issues, her record as San Francisco’s DA and California’s AG is checkered, and almost never what she presents it as.

No doubt, since the Examiner is a conservative news organization, many Dems may turn their noses up at its piece on Harris and Filner, but the Examiner report is well-sourced and factual. Which is more that can be said for many of Harris’ claims on the campaign trail.

More from FPC’s official “Kamala Harris Hypocrite Watch”:

‘Snitch Scandal’ Probe Initiated by Kamala Harris Ends, Critics Label It a ‘Sham’

Kamala Harris Claims She `Regrets’ Family Separations Under the Truancy Law She Pimped

Irony Alert: Kamala Harris Profited from an Affair with Willie Brown, Yet She Wages War on Sex Work

Kamala Harris’s Record as a Prosecutor Exposes the Dirty Truths Behind Her Newfound ‘Progressive’ Persona

About Stephen Lemons

Stephen Lemons is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than 20 years of experience covering everything from government corruption to white-supremacist gangs. In addition to Front Page Confidential, his work has appeared in Phoenix New Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon.com, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report magazine.

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