Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rising star Kamala Harris subverts democracy

Kamala Harris is currently serving as the Attorney General for the State of California. Elected in 2010, Ms. Harris has made a name for herself, but fast. She is a longtime Democrat and supporter of President Obama and was just recently named a co-chairperson for his reelection campaign. She has received many honors and awards for her work as a prosecutor (she truly excelled here) and is currently on the front lines of attempts to go after banks for misleading consumers on mortgage issues. Indeed, she's very big on protecting the citizenry.

And she doesn't limit her efforts to protect the citizenry to just private concerns, at all. As the DA for San Francisco, Harris created the Public Integrity Unit in 2004. The duties of this unit:
The Public Integrity Unit is a sub-unit of the Special Prosecutions Unit and is responsible for handling a wide spectrum of misconduct, including all forms of public corruption—ranging from bribery and theft of public funds to election fraud and illegal conflicts of interest.
For her election campaign in 2010, Harris trumpeted her own political integrity, as well:
Kamala Harris takes seriously the duty of all elected officials to firmly support their oath of office.
Given her background and the thrust of her work as a DA, it's therefore somewhat surprising to discover that Kamala Harris appears to be just another hypocrite in public office, not above using her position to dishonestly manipulate the public.

The arena of manipulations concerns attempts to reform California's State pensions, which are steadily and unavoidably forcing the State deeper and deeper into debt. The attempt by the California Pension Reform group to get an initiative in this regard on the next ballot has been withdrawn, thanks to--according to the group--Ms. Harris :
The decision was made "after determining that the Attorney General's false and misleading title and summary makes it nearly impossible to pass," Dan Pellissier, the group's president, said in a statement.
The title for the initiative that Ms. Harris came up with was "Reduces pensions for public employees." And in the summary for the initiative (these are the things voters would see on the ballot), the following language was used:
...Reduces pension benefits for current and future public employees...eliminates constitutional protections for current and future public employees' vested pension benefits...prohibits public retirement systems from providing death or disability benefits to future employees...
What hope would such an initiative have of passing? Zero. And that was the point. The AG's office insists that the language was accurate, of course, but it's not getting a lot of support in that regard even from people of a liberal persuasion. For instance, George Skelton of the Sacramento Bee calls Harris' summary "nonsense," even as he points out the history of manipulating ballot measures leads straight to a Republican AG. He offers a plea to Harris and notes the legal requirments for the AG, when it comes to ballot measures:
Give the voters a break. It's hard enough to figure out what most of these ballot measures do without the A.G. dishing out hard-core propaganda on official documents. 
Under the 1974 Political Reform Act, the attorney general is granted sole authority to prepare the ballot title and summary. State law requires the A.G. to provide an "impartial statement of the purpose of the measure" in language unlikely "to create prejudice for or against" the proposal.
Given Ms. Harris' claims and background on public integrity, one would think such an admonishment would have been unnecessary.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Kamala Harris is in the pocket of California's public sector unions, as Steven Greenhut at Reason Magazine notes. And similarly to Mr. Skelton, he describes the AG's produced initiative and summary as being "filled with distortions meant to sway voters against them," exactly contrary to the requirements mandated by law.

It's a shameful spectacle, an Attorney General willingly subverting a democratic process to serve her special interest supporters. And it's probably not all that uncommon. But the facts are clear for all to see in this case and when a politician can be burned down for violating their oath of office, they should be burned down.

Cheers, all.

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