Now that the public knows California Sen. Kamala Harris may have had her career advanced in the mid-’90s by way of an extramarital affair with Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco, feminists are circling the wagons to denounce anyone who criticizes her as sexist.
On Monday, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Willie Brown had an open extramarital affair with Harris when she was just a few years out of law school and while he was speaker of the California State Assembly running for San Francisco mayor. Brown admitted to the affair in his weekly column at the San Francisco Chronicle, confirming that the affair helped advanced Harris’ career.
“Yes, we dated,” Brown said. “It was more than 20 years ago.”
“Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker,” Brown continued. “And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco. I have also helped the careers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a host of other politicians.”
The Free Beacon noted that Harris had her career boosted by Brown “to two well-paid posts on California state commissions and later helped her in her first election.”
In light of this revelation, the feminists are playing the “sexist” card to silence the California senator’s critics. Over at Refinery 29, Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez writes that conservatives are running “misogynistic allegations” against Kamala Harris by claiming she “slept her way to the top.”
“Harris has in the past painted a very different picture of the influence Brown, who she at a point considered a mentor, had in her career,” writes Gonzalez-Ramirez. “The former mayor donated $500 to the campaign and then had a political consultant raise money for her, even though she had not agreed to the pitch. In fact, Harris was intent in distancing herself from Brown in 2003 and made it clear that as a district attorney she would prosecute him if necessary, as his political career was filled with corruption allegations.”
Gonzalez-Ramirez then paints the relationship between Brown and Harris as a non-extramarital affair because Brown had been separated from his wife at the time.
“A Fox News headline describes the relationship as an “extramarital affair” even though Brown has been separated from his estranged wife Blanche Brown since 1981 — thirteen years before he began dating Harris,” says the article. “Other right-wing outlets described the relationship as a ‘sex affair’ and argued she ‘slept her way to the top.'”
The gaslighting on display here has already begun in multiple fact-checking circles, with the site Truth or Fiction now saying the Kamala Harris-Willie Brown connection is “not true.”
Willie Brown has led an eccentric, outspoken life, and his exploits with women have been well-documented. In 2001, news broke that Brown had impregnated his top fundraiser, for example. However, the claim that Kamala Harris had “an affair” with Brown, implying not only that they had a relationship but that it was furtive and seedy, doesn’t check out.
It’s true that Brown has technically been married since 1958. However, Brown and his wife separated amicably in 1982 — more than 10 years before his relationship with Harris began — according to a 1984 New York Times profile of Brown.
So again, claims that Kamala Harris had an affair with a married man just don’t check out.
Did Kamala Harris use her relationship with Brown to launch her political career?
Kamala Harris and Willie Brown made no effort to hide their relationship in the early 1990s. When Harris first ran for public office in 2003, long after the relationship ended, her previous relationship with Brown didn’t help her chances — it actually hurt them.
Harris’ opponents, incumbent District Attorney Terence Hallinan and local attorney Bill Fazio, turned her previous relationship with Brown into a campaign issue, arguing that Harris could not be trusted to hold Brown accountable as DA because they had been previously involved.
Whether or not Brown had been separated from his wife does not negate the fact the two were still married, meaning Kamala Harris willingly slept with a man who had yet to divorce his wife and benefitted politically because of it. Of course, to point that out is to engage in misogyny.
“It’s the same kind of misogynistic thinking that has led critics to accuse several women in President Donald Trump’s orbit of having an extramarital relationship with him in exchange for more power, without any evidence,” says Gonzalez-Ramirez. “Or that has allowed men like Trump or former President Bill Clinton, notorious philanderers also accused of sexual misconduct, to rise to the highest office of the land without barely any scrutiny of their pasts.”