According to extensive reporting from Politico, administration insiders have revealed the office of Vice President Kamala Harris to be a highly dysfunctional work environment in which staffers feel disrespected and abused and one in which “people are thrown under the bus from the very top.”
The exposé details interviews with 22 current and former aides to the vice president and administration insiders, with the story’s key source explaining, “It’s not a healthy environment, and people often feel mistreated,” adding, “It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s***.”
A fair amount of the criticisms were directed at Harris’ chief of staff and longtime Democract operative Tina Flournoy, who some say has created a protective cocoon around the vice president, deflects responsibility for concerns, and blames staffers for the undesirable outcomes that result from her management approach. However, other sources from within the administration suggested that Harris cannot escape blame, either, with one opining, “It all starts at the top.”
According to Harris spokesperson and top advisor Symone Sanders, the problem is that as a powerful Black woman, Flournoy is subjected to standards that others are not, and that those working for her need to be up to the task. “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,’” said Sanders.
The staunch defender of Harris and Flournoy blasted Politico’s anonymous sources, calling them “cowards,” and added that “Black women like me would not have the opportunity to work in politics without Tina.” Suggesting that the firestorm over the piece will not rattle her boss in the least, Sanders declared, “Vice President Harris is focused on the work, not on the chatter at the water cooler.”
As the New York Post noted earlier in the week, this is not the first time Harris has been plagued by rumors of staff mistreatment, as similar claims emerged in the aftermath of her failed 2020 presidential campaign, which infamously collapsed before the first primary vote was even cast.
When Kelly Mehlenbacher, Harris’ then-state operations director, resigned in November of 2019, she did so in a letter that harshly detailed the problems plaguing the campaign and the way with which workers had been dealt. “This is my third presidential campaign,” she explained,” and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly.”
As Politico noted, Harris’ time in the Senate was also often marked by staff dissatisfaction and upheaval, with veterans of her offices characterizing operations as “managed chaos,” and lamenting that “The boss’ expectations won’t always be predictable.”
Though much has been made in the sycophantic media of the Biden administration’s ability to bring accountability and decency to D.C., it seems as though the president’s pledge to fire “on the spot” any appointee caught disrespecting others in a professional capacity is not be something to which his second-in-command is nearly as committed.