In the most memorable moment of the night, Tulsi Gabbard decimated Kamala Harris’ problematic criminal justice record. Harris was the ‘Top Cop’ in San Francisco and California, enforcing a law-and-order agenda completely out of step with Democratic primary voters.
Jailing Marijuana Offenders
As San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala Harris opposed state legislation that would have legalized recreational use of marijuana in California. Between 2011 and 2016 when she was state AG, at least 1,560 people were sent to state prisons for marijuana-related offenses
She even laughed out loud at the idea of pot legalization in 2014, and laughed about smoking marijuana in a recent interview with The Breakfast Club despite her long history of jailing marijuana-related offenders. Now, she is writing federal legislation to decriminalize it nationwide.
Showing ‘No Interest’ in Death Row Case
While California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris refused to retest DNA in a controversial death penalty case after new evidence was presented. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently issued an executive order calling for a new DNA test to be performed.
As state attorney general at the time, “Harris refused to allow this advanced DNA testing and showed no interest in the case.” The Huffington Post reported on the controversy and how it could impact Harris’ campaign.
Cheap Prison Labor
Harris’ office argued in opposition to a previously decided U.S. Supreme Court order to release minor offenders from prison because it would limit the cheap labor those prisoners provided, most notably as part of teams paid $2 a day to fight California wildfires. The Supreme Court order stemmed from a decision that declared overcrowding in California’s prisons under Harris’ watch violated prisoners constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.
Maintaining Cash Bail
Kamala Harris has talked of ending cash bail, but her record as the DA of San Francisco and AG of California tell a starkly different story:
“For her entire career she used some of the highest money bail amounts to keep people in jail cells and saddle poor families with financial debt and as soon as she had no influence on that issue practically, she announces she has a different view on it.” – Alec Karakatsanis, an attorney who has brought several legal challenges to California’s bail system
The Associated Press examination of her record notes that many of Harris’ progressive criminal justice stances, such as her newfound opposition to cash bail, “came at politically opportune moments.”
And what Tulsi didn’t mention…(among others)
Harris Bungles Crime Lab Scandal
The Washington Post dug into a crime lab scandal that plagued Kamala Harris’ tenure as San Francisco District Attorney.
Initially, Harris refused to take responsibility but eventually changed her tune to say “the buck stops with me.”
The Washington Post: “A review of the case, based on court records and interviews with key players, presents a portrait of Harris scrambling to manage a crisis that her staff saw coming but for which she was unprepared. It also shows how Harris, after seven years as district attorney, had failed to put in place written guidelines for ensuring that defendants were informed about potentially tainted evidence and testimony that could lead to unfair convictions.”
The Reviews Are In (they’re not very good)
Rebecca Buck, CNN: “Participants in our CNN focus group in Iowa last night said Cory Booker was the winner: they appreciated that he kept it positive even as he drew contrasts. Low marks for Kamala, meanwhile… none of these voters thought she had a good night.”
Washington Post: “Harris had a rough outing. She was a target for everyone from Biden to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and found herself struggling to defend her record as a prosecutor in California and clearly distinguish her health care plan from the Medicare for All proposal she has abandoned.”
Josh Kraushaar, National Journal: “CNN postgame panel unanimously brutal on Kamala Harris’ performance.”
Josh Barro, NY Mag: “But it’s clear she’s not very interested in health care, she’s running on a huge tax cut that makes her health care plan mathematically implausible”
USA Today: “At the start of the debate, Harris was slammed repeatedly by many of the other candidates — especially Biden — for a health care plan she introduced ahead of the debate. At times, she stumbled in finding her footing in defending her plan, just days after its release and when the attacks and criticisms should’ve been anticipated.”
NBC News: “Harris had a rough outing. She was a target for everyone from Biden to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and found herself struggling to defend her record as a prosecutor in California and clearly distinguish her health care plan from the Medicare for All proposal she has abandoned. In the midst of all the rhetorical warfare, she managed only a handful of middling zingers.”
Josh Orton, Sanders Policy Advisor: “Wait. Harris just told Anderson that she is separating heath care from employers. But her campaign and Medium post said people with private employer plans can have them “certified” through private Medicare and keep them. So they either can…or cannot. I can’t even keep up.”
Howard Fineman, MSNBC: “.@KamalaHarris didn’t help herself. She still hasn’t mastered health care, admittedly a fiendishly complex, treacherous topic. She got hit a few times and responded with that “let me tell ya,” heavy-duty, Berkeley marcher gravity that wasn’t so convincing the 2nd time around.”
Publications declaring Kamala as a ‘loser’ of the debate…
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