Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff married in March 2014 at a courthouse ceremony officiated by her younger sister, Maya.
Maya was Kamala’s campaign chairwoman when they dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race finishing 16th place in December 2019.
Kelly Mehlenbacher, Harris’ state operations director, resigned because her staffers were being treated terribly. There was minimal direction on policy and Harris lacked a viable plan to win the election.
“This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly,” Mehlenbacher wrote.
Emhoff’s DLA firm “represented lead investors” in deals with Bytedance the company of controversial social media app TikTok. Recall that the Trump Administration was banning TikTok after evidence surfaced that it feeds user information to China.
Emhoff’s firm also thrives on their Washington lobbying practice with offices in places like Moscow and Riyadh.
There are serious concerns about Emhoff-Harris ties to Big Pharma.
During his decade as a lawyer at the corporate firm Venable, Emhoff represented the pharmaceutical giant Merck in lawsuits tied to its drug Fosamax.
As California attorney general, Harris elected not to pursue an investigation of Herbalife, a nutritional supplements company accused of fraudulent practices in 2015.
Her San Diego regional office was pleading for an investigation. However, Herbalife was represented by Venable, partially owned by her new husband, Emhoff.
Harris received at least $5,400 in donations at the time from an outside lobbyist who did work for Herbalife.
“You can’t tell me that as the A.G. of California, you have all these complaints, and then your husband is going to be working for this company?’’ Julie Contreras, an activist and pastor who has campaigned against Herbalife, said. “Somehow that was ethically inappropriate.”
By 2017, Emhoff switched firms, becoming a partner at DLA Piper, and became licensed to practice in Washington. He retained a partnership stake in Venable that was worth nearly $1.2 million.
In 2018 Venable paid Emhoff $200,000, according to the couple’s tax filings. He was paid $1.34 million by DLA Piper in 2018, tax filings show.
Among the firm’s lobbying clients with interests before the federal government are Comcast, the telecom giant; L3 Harris Technologies, the defense contractor and the governments of Afghanistan and Bahrain. Among their most concerning clients is the Qatari government-funded Al Jazeera and the Palestine Monetary Authority.
Early in their marriage Kamala Harris was pulled into a sexual assault dispute at DLA Piper. A junior partner, Vanina Guerrero filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after being sexually assaulted four times by a top deal-maker at Emhoff’s firm named Louis Lehot.
The Sexual Assault Caper
Guerrero’s lawyer, Jeanne Christensen, asked for California Sen. Harris’ help in getting her client released from DLA Piper’s mandatory arbitration rules so she can “get her day in court.”
Mentioning the press coverage of the Guerrero case and an open letter sent to DLA Piper’s leadership last week, Christensen wrote, “I hope that you either read about the open letter yourself or that your husband Douglas Emhoff, a partner at DLA Piper, shared it with you.”
Vanina Guerrero.Courtesy of Vanina Guerrero
“I am sure that you would agree that silencing women though forced arbitration must end,” Christensen wrote.
“No female employee, including a new partner, would knowingly agree to waive her right to our court system for claims involving sexual assault, battery, or rape,” Christensen continued. “Given your profile as a candidate for the Democratic nominee for President of the United States, you are in a unique position to condemn the actions of DLA Piper and make clear that mandatory arbitration must stop.”
“Again, I urge you to support Ms. Guerrero and let DLA Piper know that time is up for its draconian policy that disproportionately protects male predators at the expense of women,” Christensen wrote.
In the EEOC complaint, Guerrero wrote that Lehot lured her to his law firm with promises of fast advancement and attacked her the first time two weeks after she signed on.
Guerrero charged the attacks escalated over the next 10 months. Lehot began sabotaging her career when she resisted his advances. She said she was initially afraid to tell anyone.
“Having moved my two toddlers and husband that I support financially from Hong Kong to California for this job, I was petrified to believe what was happening to me, much less tell anyone,” she wrote in the complaint.
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