SACRAMENTO (CBS SF / AP) — A top aide to Senator and potential 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris resigned Wednesday over revelations he was involved in a harassment lawsuit and $400,000 settlement while working for the state Department of Justice.
Larry Wallace, a senior adviser in Harris’s Sacramento office, resigned after the Sacramento Bee inquired about the 2017 settlement, the newspaper reported.
“We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously,” Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams said. “This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator, and she accepted it.”
In response to a follow-up question, Adams said the office was unaware of the complaint, settlement and lawsuit.
Harris was elected California’s attorney general in 2010 and served until early 2017, when she entered the U.S. Senate. While the settlement was finalized in May 2017, the lawsuit was filed in December 2016.
Wallace was director of the Division of Law Enforcement in the Department of Justice. Before that, he worked for Harris when she was San Francisco district attorney.
Harris, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has been a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement. In June she introduced legislation to curb workplace harassment.
The lawsuit by Danielle Hartley alleges Wallace harassed and demeaned her based on her gender while she was working for him, according to the Bee. Hartley says Wallace placed his computer printer under his desk and routinely asked Hartley to crawl under to refill it with paper, while he was sitting there and sometimes with other men in the room. He also asked Hartley to do personal tasks not related to work.
Hartley began as Wallace’s assistant in 2011. She reported the harassment to her supervisor and felt she was retaliated against, according to the lawsuit. She was transferred to another Department of Justice office by the end of 2014.
Wallace did not comment to the newspaper.
The department denied the claims in Hartley’s lawsuit. Harris’s successor, current state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, said Hartley failed to utilize training and procedures to deal with harassment in an answer to the lawsuit.
Hartley is barred from discussing the settlement amount as part of the settlement and agreed not to apply for jobs with the Justice Department. She did not comment to the Bee.
While the details of the case are secret, “Clearly a $400,000 settlement tells us that where there’s smoke there’s probably fire,” said Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates.
“That this person was so high up in the AG’s office is really problematic and troubling,” she added.
Last week, Harris said she would make a decision on a potential 2020 run with her family over the holiday season.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.