Kamala Harris staffers face accusations of creating toxic work environment in new bombshell report

“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 s---.”

Nick Monroe Cleveland Ohio

The seemingly impromptu announcement that the Vice President was going to visit the US - Mexico border amid a wave of criticism, is reportedly indeed backed up to be like that internally, per a new report about the internal culture of working for Kamala’s office.

In an in-depth article by POLITICO they interviewed 22 current and former aides of Vice President Kamala Harris about the work culture. What they learned was there’s animosity and dysfunction on a regular basis.

Two people in the Biden administration, as well as a personal friend of Kamala’s, told the outlet that Harris herself is at least aware of what’s going on with her staffers, as well as placing some of the blame personally on her shoulders for the psychological toll.

Kamala’s trip to El Paso is described as a pivotal moment in her work as VP. While the public narrative came off as if she was fulfilling her duties, internally it was felt to be hastily put together and in an obvious response to right-wingers and media pundits who used her previous avoidance of visiting the US - Mexico border as a regular talking point.

In part, it’s that the border crisis and other direct issues facing the USA being designated by President Biden as Kamala’s responsibility, as alleged causers of stress.

One person familiar with the office culture said: “People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment. 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 s---.”

A “chaotic” work environment is said to have followed Harris throughout the previous stations of her career. Both as a former senator and during her run at the presidency. The latter of which was a sunk ship by leaks and other blame games played for failures. It was only through the pedigree of finally teaming up with Joe Biden as the Democrat contenders for the 2020 election that Kamala Harris finally got to put together a cohesive team.

But things have slipped back into the old routine.

To put it another way, plummeted morale, poor communication, and a lack of trust plague the workplace. Routinely any ideas or suggestions brought up on the daily are regularly “ignored or met with harsh dismissals” by Harris’ chief of staff Tina Flournoy.

POLITICO interviewed a friend of Kamala Harris who tried getting through Flournoy as a favor for one of the top party donors. Tina took weeks to get back to this person, and when they did respond, it was to say that the current Vice President was too busy to schedule anything.

Tina Flournoy’s tenure in politics goes back to the days of former President Bill Clinton and the 2000 campaign run by Al Gore. Flournoy’s gatekeeper reputation came at her last gig as Bill Clintion’s chief of staff post-presidency. The only informal electronic communication Bill used was a Blackberry. The circumstances made it apparently easy for Tina to socially isolate him from his peers.

Flournoy is named in the piece as the catalyst for discontent in the workplace but also has defenders.

  • Symone Sanders (senior advisor and chief spokesperson): She argues that Flournoy has an "open door" policy and that she provides an opportunity to work in politics as a black woman. When it comes to complaints about the day to day work, Symone says it comes with the profession.
  • Anita Dunn (senior adviser): said Harris was keeping the recent border trip closely guarded from leakage and that the complaints were overblown from reality.
  • Leah Daughtry (former DNC chairperson): “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.”

Elsewhere POLITICO names specific people who left. When it came to Karly Satkowiak and Gabrielle DeFranceschi (director and deputy director of advance), their departure announcement came within the last week. At the time it was advertised the moves were “long-planned” but this new report suggests otherwise.

At least in DeFranceschi's case there was disagreement about Kamala's staffer management style being a "very different" contrast to how her former employer Barack Obama ran things.


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