Republican official draws outrage for post accusing Kamala Harris of using sex to advance her career

MADISON – A Republican Party staffer who has gotten in trouble in the past for social media posts promoted a debate watch party Wednesday by alleging Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris used sex to advance her career. 

The post — which was taken down shortly after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked about it — was the latest digital broadside from Keith Best, who left his job in the state Capitol last year a day after he made headlines for using a lawmaker’s Twitter account to criticize quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  

“It’s a racist, demeaning Facebook post and it’s meant to imply basically she has no credentials, no education and no worthiness of being up on that stage,” state Rep. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee said of the post about Harris.

Harris, who has degrees from Howard University and the University of California Hastings College of Law, worked as a prosecutor before she was elected as California’s attorney general and then a U.S. senator. She is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent to appear on a major party ticket. 

Best now works as the grassroots outreach director for the Waukesha County Republican Party. On his own Facebook page, he promoted a watch party for Wednesday’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Harris.

“If there are any questions on how to sleep your way to the top, Kamala will have an advantage,” Best wrote.

His post included a meme that said, “She will be an inspiration to young girls by showing that if you sleep with the right powerfully connected men then you too can play second fiddle to a man with dementia. It’s basically a Cinderella story.”

The post was a reference to Harris’ relationship in the 1990s with Willie Brown, who was speaker of the California Assembly and later became mayor of San Francisco. Harris was an assistant district attorney at the time.

Best initially defended the post but took it down shortly after talking to the Journal Sentinel.

“It’s common knowledge,” Best said. “This is nothing new.”

Terry Dittrich, chairman of the county party, said he didn’t know about the post on Best’s Facebook page until contacted by the Journal Sentinel.

“He did this all unilaterally as an individual,” Dittrich said. “Even though he’s an employee of our county party, we had nothing to do with it — not making excuses — and I told him to take it down.”

The post prompted the state Republican Party’s chairman, Andrew Hitt, to call Dittrich about the matter. The state and county parties are separate entities. 

“I would certainly never make a comment like that and I’m glad the post is being taken down,” Hitt said in a statement.

Johnson, the Democratic state senator, said Republicans needed to do more than just make sure the post was removed, especially after Best’s history on social media.

“Take it down? The fool should be packing his stuff and getting out,” Johnson said. 

Best made his post less than two months after conservative TV commentator Tomi Lahren faced blowback from Fox News employees for making a similar claim about Harris’ relationship with Brown. She apologized amid the criticism.

He posted it as complaints have emerged in Waukesha County about fake campaign signs for Democrat Joe Biden that list him and Harris as “Joe and the Hoe.” Dittrich and Best said the county party had nothing to do with those signs.

Long history on social media

Best is not new to social media controversy.

In July 2018, Best used the Twitter account of then-Rep. Tom Weatherston of Caledonia to respond to a tweet from Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee that argued voter suppression was overlooked. 

“Those claiming that minorities are not smart enough to follow voting rules with a Photo ID are the true racists,” read the tweet from Weatherston’s account. 

Weatherston later called the tweet racist and said Best had told him he had posted it “by mistake.”

Less then a year later, in February 2019, lawmakers argued on the Assembly floor about whether to recognize quarterback Colin Kaepernick as part of Black History Month.

Amid the debate, a tweet from Rep. Barbara Dittrich’s account landed: “Colin Kapernick wore socks depicting police as pigs. Flags are flying at half-staff for a murdered policeman. Are you kidding me????”

The tweet misspelled Kaepernick’s name and was referring to the shooting of Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Rittner. The tweet was deleted soon after it was posted.

Dittrich, an Oconomowoc Republican, disavowed the tweet and said she had not posted it or authorized it. Barbara Dittrich and Terry Dittrich are not related.

She said Best, who was her aide at the time, had access to her Twitter account. He retired from his $52,000-a-year job the day after the incident.

Best served the Waukesha County Republican Party as a spokesman in 2016 when the party tweeted that then-U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville had “played into Democrats’ hands” by disinviting Donald Trump to a Wisconsin event that was taking place just after the release of the “Access Hollywood” video that featured Trump talking about assaulting women.

Around the same time, the county party’s Twitter account mocked Miss Universe Alicia Machado for supposedly having a double chin.

Best at the time refused to say whether he controlled the county party’s Twitter account and maintained it was run by women whom he would not identify out of fear of retaliation.

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.