Addressing the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C., California Attorney General Kamala Harris told a crowd of 20,000 that she wants an “America where opportunity is open to everyone … where everyone plays by the same set of rules.” The first big boost to her career, however, came not because of her legal prowess but because her boyfriend was California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen once called Harris “the Speaker’s new steady.” He went on to become the first black mayor of San Francisco.

As Brown’s time as speaker drew to a close in 1994, he named Harris to the California Medical Assistance Commission, a job that came with a $72,000 annual salary. Brown had previously appointed her to the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

She “was described by several people at the Capitol as Brown’s girlfriend,” the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.

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