Friday, August 14, 2020

Career Sugar Babies Are The Emptiest Suits And The Snuggest Sock Puppets

lamag  |  Influential California politician Willie Brown inserted himself into Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign this week, penning an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle detailing his romantic relationship with her in the 1990s. The relationship was never a secret, but the public acknowledgement ignited new criticisms of Harris. Commentators began to imply she benefitted professionally from the personal relationship, possibly even only getting to where she is today because of their liaison.

Willie Brown was a fixture in California politics for years, serving as speaker of the state assembly for 15 years, and known as something of an unofficial deal-maker and influencer. He first met Harris in 1994, when she was an assistant district attorney in Alameda County. He was 60 years old at the time, and had been estranged from his wife, Blanche Brown, since 1981.

In his capacity as speaker, Brown appointed Harris to two political positions. The first was a six-month appointment to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board; the second was a role on the Medical Assistance Commission, a body tasked with negotiating contracts to control Medi-Cal costs. At the time, Brown had a reputation for filling many openings with his personal associates and inner circle; when Harris vacated the Appeals Board gig, he replaced her with his longtime buddy Philip S. Ryan.

Harris ended the relationship–which was conducted in the open and frequently reported on at the time–in late 1995, shortly before Brown was sworn in for his first of two terms as mayor of San Francisco.