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Kamala Harris’ former top aide in California AG’s office signed mysterious non-disclosure

A mysterious non-disclosure agreement has been revealed, showing that Senator Kamala Harris’ top aid in the California attorney general’s office received a $34,900 settlement to resign quietly in 2011.

Terri Carbaugh was working for Harris, who was then California’s top prosecutor, as chief deputy attorney general for administration and policy when she signed the agreement in September 2011, according to Business Insider.

In exchange for agreeing to resign quietly and release any claim of harassment, discrimination or retaliation against the department, Carbaugh received the taxpayer-funded payout and a glowing letter of recommendation penned by Harris.

Harris has previously spoken out against the use of non-disclosure agreements, and the publication of the NDA raises more questions than it answers even as Joe Biden considers Harris on his short list of potential presidential running mates. 

Sabrina Singh, a senior adviser for Harris’ political operation, declined to comment on the details of the dispute to Business Insider.

‘Senator Harris strongly opposes the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence anyone. She fully supports the release of Terri Carbaugh from this NDA if she chooses,’ Singh told the outlet. 

Biden’s VP vetting team, led by former Senator Chris Dodd, is reportedly aware of the NDA and has a copy of it. 

The agreement came less than a year after Harris assumed office as California’s attorney general, where she remained until being sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 2017. 

The full text of the 2011 agreement has been circulating for months among the media elite, though it does not appear to have been mentioned in any prior reporting on Harris, according to Business Insider. 

The agreement’s authenticity was confirmed by the Sacramento Bee, which obtained a copy through a public records request.

The amount of the settlement, $34,900, is notable, as California state law requires settlements of $35,000 and up to be reported to the director of finance, along with proposed steps to prevent future circumstances that could result in a similar claim.

The NDA was signed on September 28, 2011, and set September 30 as Carbaugh’s resignation date.

In the intervening two days, the agreement specified that Carbaugh was to work remotely, take no meetings, and refer all inquiries about department business to Harris’ senior counsel.

Attached to the agreement was a ‘pre-approved’ announcement that Carbaugh agreed to send out to the department announcing her resignation. 

Also attached was a glowing letter of recommendation for Carbaugh that Harris agreed to sign once the agreement was executed.

‘Terri is a highly motivated public servant,’ Harris wrote in the letter of recommendation. ‘I recommend Terri, without any reservation and with the highest esteem, to serve in any capacity she chooses.’ 

Business Insider reported that when it reached Carbaugh for comment, she replied only with an exact copy of Harris’ recommendation letter.

Experts expressed bafflement at the agreement, noting that Harris had full discretion to hire and fire political appointees such as Carbaugh for any reason, or no reason, so long as the decision did not involve illegal discrimination.

Harris has taken a strong stance against such employment-related NDAs in subsequent years. 

In 2018, Harris co-authored a bill to ban employers from requiring workers to sign non-disclosure agreements to get a job. 

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