Vice President Kamala Harris' office is a toxic, 'abusive' environment where "people are thrown under the bus from the very top,' according to 22 current and former staffers, administration officials and associates of Harris and President Biden.
In a Politico exposé reminiscent of a Feb. 2019 New York Times in which over fifty current and former staffers decried her dysfunctional campaign (h/t @mattdizwhitlock), Harris and her Chief of Staff, Tina Flournoy, are slammed for running an office with "low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust among aides and senior officials."
"It all starts at the top," said one administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity (as they all did).
"People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment," said another person with direct knowledge of Harris' office. "It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like shit."
As Politico notes, "The dysfunction in the VP’s ranks threatens to complicate the White House’s carefully crafted image as a place staffed by a close-knit group of professionals working in concert to advance the president’s agenda. It’s pronounced enough that members of the president’s own team have taken notice and are concerned about the way Harris’ staffers are treated."
Harris spokeswoman Symone Sanders - a racist who mocked a white Trump supporter after he was beaten by a group of black men - and was passed over for Biden's press secretary, pushed back against the nearly two-dozen accounts of dysfunction, saying Flournoy has an "open door policy," and that "Black women like me would not have the opportunity to work in politics without Tina."
Sanders called the anonymous sources "cowards."
"We are not making rainbows and bunnies all day. What I hear is that people have hard jobs and I’m like ‘welcome to the club,'" Sanders continued. "We have created a culture where people, if there is anything anyone would like to raise, there are avenues for them to do so. Whoever has something they would like to raise, they should raise it directly."
Harris and Flournoy's defenders are pulling the race card - saying that "Black women in particular—are subjected to standards that men often don’t have to clear. A tough and demanding office environment may be seen as a virtue for one and a sign of disorder and lack of leadership acumen for another."
Staffers looking for an exit.
According to the report, some of Harris' aides are looking for other employment opportunities, while others have left already. In recent days, two top advance staffers, Karly Satkowiak and Gabrielle DeFranceschi, left the 'dysfunctional' office. And while Harris' team said the departures were 'long-planned', two people familiar with the departures call bullshit.
For DeFranceschi, the deputy director of advance, the departure came down to a “difference in opinion on how things should run,” according to another person familiar with the matter, who said that Harris’ office is run “very different” from the Obama operation, where DeFranceschi previously worked. “If you have an opinion about how things should run and it’s not listened to, that can be frustrating.”
DeFranceschi did not respond to a request for comment.
A third Harris aide who worked on her digital team, Rajan Kaur, left the staff after opting not to relocate to Washington from Brooklyn.
Anita Dunn, a senior adviser to the president, defended Flournoy as well as the decision to keep news of the border trip contained among a small group of people, saying Harris’ office didn’t want it to leak or “turn it into a spectacle.”
“It was closely held and there may be people whose feelings were a little hurt on her staff that they weren't brought into the discussion,” Dunn said. “But any suggestion that it was mishandled or kept a secret from people who needed to know about the arrangements or needed to know about it is absolutely not true.”
Asked if she was aware of the complaints about the VP’s office, Dunn replied that it was “not anywhere near what you are describing.” -Politico
Flournoy, a veteran of the Clinton White House and Al Gore's 2000 campaign, is part of an 'informal group of Black women who’ve worked together for decades in Democratic politics, which includes Donna Brazile, Minyon Moore, Leah Daughtry and Yolanda Caraway,' according to the report.
"Look, [Tina’s] strong, she's intelligent, she's driven, and she expects strong, intelligent, driven people around her," said Daughtry, adding "But some people may find strong, driven, smart people intimidating, but I think that’s more projection than reality because that’s just not Tina's intent or style. And nothing in her experience would lead you to think that she’s an intimidating person."
So the staffers are the problem? Hilarious.
Politico paints a different picture - having developed a reputation for being Kamala's gatekeeper, often refusing to delegate while second-guessing others in Harris' office.
Apparently, she did the same thing as Bill Clinton's post-presidential chief of staff.
"People who Clinton knew for decades all of a sudden couldn’t get through to him because Tina choked off contact," one of the people said. "Because Clinton didn’t use email," just his blackberry, "she was able to keep many FOBs [friends of Bill] out."
Morale is "rough," and in many ways 'similar to the failed presidential campaign and her Senate office,' according to a former Senate aide who speaks with Harris' staffers.
Read the rest of the report here.