U.S Sen. Kamala Harris was announced as the Democratic vice presidential nominee on August 11, 2020. Immediately after the announcement, numerous rumors about Harris circulated on the internet.
Harris has been married to her husband, attorney Douglas Emhoff, since 2014. However, articles and memes online state that years prior, Harris had an extramarital affair with former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, with some people claiming that Harris' political success was achieved by being Brown's "mistress"
A headline from Teaparty.org read "Flashback: Kamala Harris Launched Her Political Career In Bedroom As Mistress Of Married Mayor Willie Brown."
The narratives are misleading and exaggerated. Harris dated Brown in the mid-1990s, but Brown had been estranged from his wife since 1981.
Brown did appoint Harris to two political posts in 1994 while he served as Speaker of the California Assembly, but that was years before Harris won her first election in 2003.
Harris was already working as an assistant district attorney in Alameda County when she took on the appointments.
Harris' relationship to Brown was never a secret, even though it may not be well known outside political circles.
Brown talked about their past relationship in a piece that was published by the San Francisco Chronicle on January 26, 2019, just a day before Harris launched her presidential campaign.
Brown admitted they dated more than 20 years ago. He also said he may have influenced Harris' career by appointing her to two-state commissions when he was Assembly speaker.
Brown also said he helped Harris with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco and he also helped the careers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and other politicians.
History of their relationship
The history of the relationship and political appointments Brown gave Harris was also reported in news outlets for years. In 2019, Los Angeles Magazine reported that Brown was a fixture in California politics for years as he served as speaker of the state assembly for 15 years.
Brown was known as an unofficial deal-maker and influencer. He met Harris in 1994 when she was an assistant district attorney in Alameda County. Brown was 60 years old at the time and had been separated from his ex-wife Blanche Brown since 1981.
Brown appointed Harris to two political positions. The first position was a six-month appointment to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The second appointment was a role on the Medical Assistance Commission.
At the time, Brown had a reputation for filling many openings with his associates. When Harris resigned from the Appeals Board, he replaced her with his longtime friend Philip S. Ryan.
Harris ended their relationship in 1995, shorty before Brown was sworn in for his first of two terms as mayor of San Francisco. She did not run for political office until after her relationship with Brown ended.
In 2003, Harris made a successful bid for the office of San Francisco district attorney and she was elected to serve as the attorney general of California in 2011. She was elected in 2016 to serve in the United States Senate representing the state of California.