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 March 16, 2024

Lawsuit alleges racial discrimination and sexual assault at exclusive country club that counts Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff as members

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are members of the posh Hillcrest Country Club which is at the center of a discrimination lawsuit, the UK Daily Mail reported. The plaintiff alleges that the Los Angeles playground for the elites ignored sexual assault and is a "racist aristocracy" that engages in discriminatory practices. 

The lawsuit was filed Monday and included explosive claims about the club that's hosted former Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton as well as Hollywood stars like Danny Kaye, the Marx Brothers, and George Burns. "Perhaps no institution embodies the racial disparities and resistance to change more starkly than the infamous Hillcrest Country Club," the filing said.

The lawsuit was brought by 42-year-old Matthew Winnick, a Jewish man who believes he and his wife faced retaliation because of their "Hispanic heritage." It also alleges that the club "disregards drug use and sexual assault."

The claim alleges that the membership is comprised mostly of white Jewish individuals, including Emhoff, and does so through nepotism and discrimination. This is not a good look for Harris, who could be left mourning her political career if the case gains traction.

Country Club Elitism

The lawsuit against the country club, which is a favorite for Harris and Emhoff when they're on the West Coast, began with the vice president's own words about discrimination. "In times like this, silence is complicity," Harris said in 2020.

That underscores the severity of such ties if Winnick's allegations are correct. The plaintiff, whose father is the late billionaire Gar Winnick, believes that he was targeted because he is in a biracial marriage and their resulting mixed children.

Court filings contend that the club was founded in 1920 for the "Jewish community" and "refused admission to women and severely limited admission to non-Jewish members" for decades. To this day, it is not representative of the racial makeup of the city it serves.

"Hillcrest claims to be founded on the principles of diversity and generosity. It boasts to the world that it upholds the highest principles of inclusivity, that the Club is intent on giving back to its community," court documents said.

"In reality, Hillcrest is overwhelmingly white, pays an embarrassingly low property tax (approximately $250,000 annually), and has no desire or incentive to change. Hillcrest is a racist aristocracy, subsidized by the City to the tune of nearly seventy (70) million dollars per year," the lawsuit charged.

Dark Allegations

Beyond the elitism were more serious problems alleged in Winnick's lawsuit. The club's president, Jason Kaplan, allegedly committed sexual assault and has been "making racist remarks in incidents that the Club has refused to investigate."

The details of the alleged sexual assault were left out, but Winnick's lawsuit recounted a birthday party where Kaplan allegedly yelled "Callate" at the plaintiff. The word in Spanish means "shut up," and Winnick was shocked and upset.

Later, Kaplan doubled down on his rudeness when Winnick questioned him about his reasons for singling him out. "You want to mess with me?" Kaplan allegedly challenged Winnick.

Neither Harris nor Emhoff commented on the situation at the club where they're members. The first gentleman recently wrapped up a trip to New Mexico to tout President Joe Biden's commitment to infrastructure, KOAT-TV reported.

These types of institutions are playgrounds for the rich, famous, and well-connected. It's possible Winnick is blowing the lid off of what goes on behind the scenes at Hillcrest, but the truth is unknown until the case makes its way through the courts.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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