Under then-Attorney General Kamala Harris’ direction, the California Department of Justice paid a nearly $35,000 settlement to Harris’ former chief deputy attorney general after a dispute related to her termination in 2011, documents show.
A copy of the settlement agreement provided to The Bee by the California Department of Justice says the department paid former Harris aide Terri Carbaugh $34,900.
The agreement came less than a year after Harris, now a U.S. Senator and widely considered to be a favorite for the vice presidential nomination, assumed office as California’s attorney general.
As part of the agreement, both the department and Carbaugh agreed “not to disclose, discuss or provide the contents or terms of this Agreement to third parties, except as expressly authorized by this Agreement or in response to formal requests authorized by law.”
The agreement does not detail specifics of the dispute, but says the “department determined that Carbaugh should no longer serve in the position of Chief Deputy Attorney General for Administration and Policy.”
Carbaugh challenged that decision and “asserted certain disputed claims and damages relating to her employment with the department.”
Carbaugh agreed to resign, according to the settlement. As part of the deal, Harris also wrote Carbaugh a complimentary letter of recommendation, in which Harris described her as “an indispensable member of my executive team and a longtime friend.”
Carbaugh did not respond to questions for this article. Harris’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While the settlement with Carbaugh, first reported by Business Insider, contained non-disclosure language, Harris has taken a stand against non-disclosure agreements in the Senate. The use of them in sexual harassment cases gained new scrutiny as the Me Too movement unfolded.
In 2018, Harris co-authored a bill to ban employers from requiring workers to sign non-disclosure agreements to get a job.
Harris’ time as attorney general included another controversy. A veteran Harris staff member resigned his job in 2018 after The Sacramento Bee inquired about a $400,000 harassment and retaliation settlement resulting from his time working for Harris at the California Department of Justice.
Larry Wallace, who was director of the Division of Law Enforcement, was accused by his former executive assistant in December 2016 of “gender harassment” and other behavior, including often asking her to crawl under his desk to change the paper in his printer.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, when Harris was still attorney general but preparing to be sworn in as California’s newly elected Democratic senator. It was settled in May 2017, by Xavier Becerra, who was named to succeed her as attorney general.
“We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously. This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it,” Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams told The Bee in 2018.
That settlement also included a nondisclosure section, in which Wallace’s assistant agreed not to disclose the settlement amount and agreed not to contact the media about it.
The Department of Justice provided The Bee the Carbaugh settlement on Friday after a reporter inquired about it.
In 2018, The Bee filed a Public Records Act request for settlement agreements for claims filed or threatened to be filed against the attorney general or Department of Justice since Harris took office in 2011.
The Carbaugh settlement was not among the records the Department provided in response to that request.
David LIghtman of the McClatchy Washington Bureau contributed to this report.
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