Kamala Harris says former aide can break non-disclosure agreement after $35k settlement

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Sen. Kamala Harris reportedly supports releasing a former staffer who served under her during the California Democrat’s tenure as state attorney general from a non-disclosure agreement.

The report comes as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden moves closer to naming his running mate, a shortened list Harris is believed to be on.

Harris reached a settlement worth nearly $35,000 with a top aide in her office less than a year after she was elected California attorney general following an undisclosed dispute. As part of the deal, the former chief deputy, Terri Carbaugh, was required to sign an NDA.

Now, however, a senior advisor to Harris says she supports releasing Carbaugh from the agreement, Business Insider reported.

“Senator Harris strongly opposes the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence anyone,” adviser Sabrina Singh told the news site. “She fully supports the release of Terri Carbaugh from this NDA if she chooses.”

Harris’ office and Carbaugh reached a deal in 2011 in which the former aide would receive $34,900 if she agreed to leave her post quietly, according to a document obtained by the outlet.

However, the details surrounding the agreement and the reason why Carbaugh departed in the first place remain unclear.

While the fact that an NDA exists isn’t necessarily that important, it does take on some relevance given that Harris is a leading contender to become Biden’s running mate for the fall election. The former VP has committed to selecting a woman of color.

A former staffer for Harris said that Biden’s vetting team has seen the NDA, Business Insider reported.

According to terms of the settlement, Carbaugh agreed not to claim she was harassed, retaliated against or suffered discrimination. There is no evidence that any of those claims had much to do with her settlement, however,

“The parties agree not to disclose, discuss or provide the contents or terms of this agreement to third parties,” the document notes, which added that under the terms of the settlement neither side admits to any wrongdoing.

However, the agreement does seem “odd” because Harris’ office was empowered to fire Carbaugh for any reason it wanted or no reason at all under what is known as “at will” employment, unless there was some discrimination, retaliation, or other illegal reason involved, according to an ex-adviser to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who spoke to Business Insider.

The settlement with Carbaugh isn’t the only one stemming from Harris’s tenure as California AG. However, it is the only one that came with a non-disclosure agreement, which is something the Democratic senator has often spoken out against.

She has since introduced legislation that limits the scope of NDAs, claiming that they can promote a culture of “fear and silence” within the #MeToo movement especially, BI reported.

Harris co-authored a measure that would prohibit employers from requiring workers to sign NDAs as a condition of employment, according to the Sacramento Bee.

As Carbaugh departed, Harris wrote a praiseworthy letter of recommendation calling the former top aide “indispensable” a “longtime friend” and a “highly motivated public servant.”

Carbaugh noted in a departing email that her work with assisting Harris’ transition was “essentially completed” and her time at the state AG’s office was a “wonderful experience” that she would “long treasure.”

Meanwhile, former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who is assisting Biden in vetting VP choices, is said to have lost interest in Harris after she refused to show “remorse” for attacking Biden during the primaries over the former Delaware senator’s school busing during a debate.

“That’s politics!” Harris is reported to have told Dodd.

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Jon Dougherty

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