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    Harley Rouda: Character matters. That’s why Katie Porter is unfit for the United States Senate.
    • January 23, 2024

    When you get a Google notice and your name is associated with a news article, and you’re out of political office, you take notice. So of course, I read the San Francisco Chronicle’s article comparing the memoirs from the top three democrats running to become the next senator from California – Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter – with interest. Why was my name mentioned when I’ve retired from politics? Why was I mentioned at all? Much to my extreme surprise, in the last part of the article according to the reporter, Katie Porter said I asked her to valet my car at a fundraising event. 

    As opposed to the memoirs of my former colleagues Lee and Schiff, Porter’s book reveals a lot about what makes her tick. Oh, and you’ll discover as I did, a very deep hatred of my family and me. It’s personal, and surprising. I’m referenced numerous times to illustrate points about privilege and class. Her anecdotes about me mistaking her for a valet, or about my real estate purchases, or airline seats, indicate she spent a grotesque and inordinate amount of her time in the House of Representatives keeping notes, keeping score, and lying about her peers.

    Katie, as you were watching and judging my family and, as you say, “comparing myself to Harley,” I was busy working, writing, passing legislation, and bringing home resources to Orange County. It cost my family money for me to serve, quite the opposite of what you imply. After writing a paragraph about your peers who traded stock while in Congress, you conclude the chapter with me. You write: “Before he was in office, Harley was a rich guy. In Congress, he ballooned into Representative Rich Guy. That transformation changed my occasional envy of him into institutional outrage.”

    That’s your outrage? Me? With all the enormous issues facing our country and the world, and your ability to address these issues head on, this is where your outrage lies? Really? It is shallow beyond the pale.  

    Katie Porter built her brand around being a minivan driving, single mom, but the truth of the matter is she’s a boarding school, Harvard, and Yale grad. Katie had more choices and more privilege than virtually everyone else. She lives in a deeply subsidized home – worth about two million dollars – courtesy of UCI and California taxpayers, because she is on “leave” from being a professor.

    Porter boasts about taking on powerful special interests – using her whiteboard prop to scold executives – but after pledging to reject their campaign contributions, she “has accepted tens of thousands of dollars worth of contributions from powerful people with influence at the highest echelons of Wall Street.” Talk about hypocrisy. Her whiteboard everywoman act is a fake. She is, at heart, an accomplished actor who stages classless photo opps on the House floor.  

    But she doesn’t want you to see her that way. Instead, she’s the victim. Always. 

    Drama is great for reality TV, but what we desperately need in Washington D.C. is leadership, people who will reach across the aisle to get things done. Not show people like Katie Porter and Marjorie Taylor Greene who use the office as their own personal promotional outlet. In the 2022 election, Katie had to spend $29 million – 9 times more than her opponent and 99% of it from donors outside the district – and still barely won the seat. Yet Katie still managed to cost our party a seat in LA by backing a primary challenger to Christie Smith, and likely cost Democrats two more seats in Orange County by her musical chairs conducted solely for personal gain. After winning, what does Katie do? She served a total of three days before announcing she was abandoning her constituents and running for the U.S. Senate, and hand-picked a convicted drunk driver as her hopeful replacement. 

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    Katie, because I know you will read this, let me say a few things to you directly: I never asked you to valet my car, I didn’t get rich from my time in Congress, and I didn’t purchase a, “DC penthouse for millions weeks after the election.” Those are all unadulterated lies and that makes you a liar. My wife, who you claim I flew “to Washington,” is an international best-selling author and can fly herself anywhere she wants. And she chose to join me in D.C., often, because we are a team. Trying to view our motives and our lives through your lens of isolationist outrage is unfair, and untrue. Projection doesn’t look good on anybody, but especially not someone who wants to be elected to the U.S. Senate. 

    As I read your book, one thing became very clear through all your lies. You say you want to be our next senator to provide, “a voice for the minivan drivers and parents who silently lament $20 field trip fees.” But that’s not your true desire. Like your own staffers have said, you’re in this for power and position, the ability to bully, and be in the spotlight. Your book revealed your true nature. Your minivan is a prop, and your life is of your choosing. As they say, you made your bed. But Californians still have a choice. 

    If you’re not Katie Porter, I hope you vote for someone with character, stability, and wisdom. To me, Katie’s not that person, she’s no better than a bully. A bully with a white board who is in this for power and her ego. The last thing we need is more self-centered politicians like Katie Porter. 

    Harley Rouda served in the House of Representatives from 2019 to 2021. He lives in Laguna Beach.

    ​ Orange County Register