Author Topic: KAMALA HARRIS AND THE WHITE HOUSE  (Read 1084 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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KAMALA HARRIS AND THE WHITE HOUSE
« on: December 11, 2011, 06:23:58 pm »
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KAMALA HARRIS AND THE WHITE HOUSE

State AG’s acts of independence


Kamala Harris was an early and fervent supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy for president. But as state attorney general, Harris is showing a willingness to criticize administration policy and even stand up to intense White House pressure when she believes it is not acting in the best interest of California.

The latest and most profound example is Harris’ decision to pull California out of what was about to become a 50-state settlement of lawsuits against five major banks in connection with the foreclosure crisis. The Obama administration was pushing for this “global settlement” on the argument that it would provide near-term relief for Americans who had lost or were about to lose their homes to foreclosure.

When Harris announced in September that she was withdrawing from the settlement talks — out of her determination that the banks’ $20 billion payout in exchange for sweeping immunity from further litigation was not a good deal for this state — many consumer advocates were convinced that her resistance was temporary. They knew the banks would put a few billion more on the table, which they did. They also knew the White House would turn up the heat to get this resolved, which it did.

Harris held firm. Instead of caving, she announced last week that she would team up with Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to combine their investigations into banking industry practices, from loan origination to the review of foreclosure documents.

The global settlement so desperately desired by the White House and the major banks is going to have to wait.

“My point has always been that I took an oath to represent California … and I am frankly unapologetic in that that is my priority,” Harris said in an interview at her San Francisco office Thursday.

“That is the oath I took. And we all have to play in position. … That’s what I’m doing.”

Her particular concerns with the proposed global settlement went beyond whether the restitution amounted to “crumbs on the table” against the scale of hardship resulting from shoddy bank practices. She also was unconvinced that the investigations to date were sufficient to assess blame for the predicament faced by millions of homeowners — and to provide a basis for legislation and regulation to reduce the chances of a recurrence.

“No one has presented the issue to me in the context of the re-election — no one,” Harris said of the Obama administration’s desire for a settlement. “If anything it has been about settling the market, resolving the issue, bringing the relief now.”

Harris also found herself at odds with the Obama administration in a very public way when U.S. attorneys signaled in early October that they were about to crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries. The feds indicated that they were prepared to shut down clinics, seize assets and seek criminal prosecutions against what they regarded as criminal enterprises masquerading as suppliers of medicine.

Harris nodded affirmatively when asked if she was caught off guard by the sudden change of heart by an administration that once suggested it would take a hands-off approach to medical marijuana operations that were in compliance with state law.

“We didn’t receive any notice that it was coming,” she said.

Her office eventually issued a statement that questioned the federal government’s priorities with limited law-enforcement resources.

“For the feds to come in, who don’t agree with the very premise (that marijuana can be medicine), and then tell us which dispensaries can be open or not doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

She said her office was working with key lawmakers, most notably Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, on legislation that would clear up the “confusion and ambiguities” about medical marijuana regulation. “I don’t see a role for the feds on this issue once it is addressed by theCalifornia Legislature,” she said.

Let there be no doubt: Harris remains “hugely supportive” of President Obama — and, in fact, her office has exerted its influence on his administration’s behalf in various ways, including legal briefs in support of his health care overhaul. It is equally apparent that Harris is going to be an independent-minded state attorney general regardless of whether friend or foe serves in the White House.

John Diaz is The Chronicle’s editorial page editor. E-mail: jdiaz@sfchronicle.com.




Offline DRobinson

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Re: KAMALA HARRIS AND THE WHITE HOUSE
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2011, 10:25:08 am »
You have to respect Harris' independence. Not many (any?) AG's have, or would, stand up  against their own party in such a public way.  One more (on a long list) reason to support Harris!

Offline Battle

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Re: KAMALA HARRIS AND THE WHITE HOUSE
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2011, 10:31:01 am »
From the article:

Quote
“My point has always been that I took an oath to represent California … and I am frankly unapologetic in that that is my priority,” Harris said in an interview at her San Francisco office Thursday.

“That is the oath I took. And we all have to play in position. … That’s what I’m doing.”





Damn...! :o

Attractive AND assertive...   What a combination! :-*