Cole Harris, unsuccessful Republican candidate for lieutenant governor
Cole Harris, unsuccessful Republican candidate for lieutenant governor

In summary

Republican Cole Harris lost his bid for lieutenant governor in June, but a message on his web site says he owes $1.1 million to his campaign consultants. The Glendale investor responded to queries with referrals to Instagram.

Republican Cole Harris, a first-time candidate who spent $2.2 million of his own money only to lose his run for lieutenant governor in June, is learning that politics is a tough business.

Recently, someone—apparently a disgruntled consultant—accessed the site and wrote in bold red and black capital letters:

“Cole Harris owes his campaign vendors and employees at least $1.1 million dollars in unpaid bills.”

Harris is a Glendale investor who posts Instagram photos of himself on yachts, planes and exotic cars, drinking French wine and wearing Rolex watches. He placed third in the top-two primary in June, despite vastly outspending most of his opponents and gaining the California Republican Party endorsement.

The campaign site, which has not yet been taken down, includes a link to his latest campaign finance filing, which shows five-and six-figure debts to consultants spread around the state and country.

Harris’ campaign Twitter feed also prominently features a tweet that links to the broadside, and, separately, displays a misogynistic Instagram posting under the candidate’s Twitter handle. The posting has no date, and wasn’t publicly visible on Harris’ Instagram account.

Harris, reached by phone, answered queries about the apparent dispute with a referral to his latest Instagram posting: “Keep throwin bricks at me. I’ll continue to use them to build with. Now, for anyone that wants to understand my side of things and what’s the TRUTH, wait. It’s coming.”

The campaign finance report shows Harris owes one firm, Majority Strategies, $288,000. The firm, which has control of the campaign website, did not comment.

Sacramento strategist Rob Stutzman, who was among those who worked for Harris, said of the web message: “I’m disappointed that someone has taken this tack. I think it’s unprofessional.”

The campaign finance report shows Harris also owes Stutzman $34,000. Stutzman said he’s working with Harris to resolve the bill.

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Dan Morain joined CalMatters in March 2018. He is the former editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee. Morain also spent 27 years at The Los Angeles Times, and has covered the Capitol since 1992.