It seems that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) could be taking some advice from Ringo Starr. Overcoming the stigma attached to her stint as California’s top cop might require her to get by with a little help from her friends. It appears that members of the Golden State’s government might be stepping up to the plate.
Despite checking all the appropriate intersectional boxes and her brutal takedown of former Vice President Joe Biden during the first Democratic presidential debates, the senator is finding it difficult to break through with Democratic voters. While several factors prevent Harris from winning more support, her history as attorney general seems to be a primary obstacle.
During the second Democratic presidential debate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) brutalized Harris by bringing up her record as California’s chief law enforcement official. “She put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.”
The representative was referencing an interview on The Breakfast Club radio show when Harris admitted to host Charlamagne tha God that she smoked marijuana in her youth. But Gabbard didn’t stop there; she proceeded to hammer Harris with a verbal roundhouse kick that would have stunned Chuck Norris. “She blocked evidence — she blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so,” Gabbard explained. “She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California.”
Ouch. Gabbard’s attack on the senator was so fierce, #KamalaHarrisDestroyed trended on Twitter.
California Running Interference for Harris?
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) altered its website to make it more difficult to scrutinize Harris’ record as attorney general. According to the Free Beacon, the agency “removed public access to a number of reports on incarceration in the state, including when presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D.) was California’s attorney general.”
The reports, previously released twice a year, display pertinent information on newly imprisoned inmates. The information includes data points such as demographics, offense type, sentence length, and other critical elements.
Until the present, each of these reports was provided on the CDCR’s website. Now, only the Spring 2019 report is available, and any information predating has been purged. Very curious, right? If this is an effort to conceal Harris’ record, it is not difficult to see why: More than 120,000 black and Latino California residents were imprisoned during her tenure. For Democratic voters concerned about equity in the justice system, this might be enough of a reason to choose a different candidate.
A representative with the CDCR told the Free Beacon that the changes were necessitated by AB 434, a California law governing web accessibility passed in 2017. Jeffrey Callison, the agency’s assistant secretary for communications, explained:
“Making our website fully compliant was a significant and ongoing undertaking. It required a redesign of the look and feel of the website, and a need to evaluate all of the thousands of documents and other files that were linked to our website.”
Callison also indicated that some information was removed temporarily, and while most of the documents were taken down permanently; they are still available by request. Of course, it is obvious this provides an obstacle for those who wish to analyze the senator’s record.
Harris’ ratings were low when she first announced her bid for the presidency. But after she smacked down Biden during the first debate, she saw a notable increase in her popularity. But since then, her numbers have remained stagnant. She has failed to win over black voters, who seem to prefer the former vice president.
One way or another, Harris must find a way to overcome the stain attached to her former position. The CDCR might be able to obscure her record if indeed that is the intention. But it cannot be hidden altogether. If Harris does manage to win the nomination, she will need to explain why she is the better choice when she has locked up individuals for nonviolent drug offenses. She will be running against a president who has already contributed to the release of many in similar situations. Either way, it will be an uphill battle for the former prosecutor.