‘Constantly propping up a bully’: Ex-staffer rips VP Kamala Harris, says she was a monster to work for

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A newly published analysis in the Washington Post adds new credibility to previous reports throughout the summer that Vice President Kamala Harris is difficult to work for, as evidenced by the constant stream of staffers exiting her office.

“The rumors started circulating in July: Vice President Harris’s staff was wilting in a dysfunctional and frustrated office, burned out just a few months after her historic swearing-in and pondering exit strategies,” the Post’s report begins.

“A few days later, Harris hosted an all-staff party at her official residence, where most of her office bit into hamburgers and posted pictures of smiling, congenial co-workers on Twitter, pixelated counterpoints to the narrative of an office in shambles,” the report continued.

The Post went on to note that Symone Sanders, then Harris’ chief spokesperson, “gushed” in social media posts about the event before going on to label unnamed critics of the VP “cowards” while nevertheless acknowledging that working for her was hard.

“We are not making rainbows and bunnies all day,” she told one news outlet. “What I hear is that people have hard jobs and I’m like ‘welcome to the club.’”

But just five months later, Sanders announced that she, too, is leaving, becoming “the highest-profile member of an end-of-year exodus” that also included communications director Ashley Etienne and a pair of other staff members “who help shape the vice president’s public image,” the Post’s report said.

Sanders went on to tell the paper that she’s not leaving because she is unhappy or because Harris’ office is dysfunctional, but rather, her departure comes “because she is ready for a break after three years of the relentless pressure that came with speaking for and advising Biden and Harris while navigating a global pandemic.”

Harris echoed Sanders when asked about her departure this week.

“I love Symone, and I can’t wait to see what she will do next, and I know that it’s been a, you know, it’s been three years of a lot of jumping on and off planes and going around the country, and she works very hard, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next, and I mean that sincerely,” Harris said.

When pressed about whether Sanders was leaving because of internal friction, the vice president responded: “Well, I’ve told you how I feel about Symone. Next question.”

That said, while supporters claim criticism of the VP is steeped in “racism” and “sexism,” others who spoke with the Post paint a different picture — one that adds to a growing list of questions about whether she would be able to handle a presidency were she to somehow be elevated to the Oval Office.

The Post noted:

Critics scattered over two decades point to an inconsistent and at times degrading principal who burns through seasoned staff members who have succeeded in other demanding, high-profile positions. People used to putting aside missteps, sacrificing sleep and enduring the occasional tirade from an irate boss say doing so under Harris can be particularly difficult, as she has struggled to make progress on her vice-presidential portfolio or measure up to the potential that has many pegging her as the future of the Democratic Party.

 

“One of the things we’ve said in our little text groups among each other is what is the common denominator through all this and it’s her,” Gil Duran, a former Democratic strategist and aide to Harris who lasted five months with her in 2013. In a recent column, Duran noted that Harris appears to be returning to “the same old destructive patterns.”

“Who are the next talented people you’re going to bring in and burn through and then have (them) pretend they’re retiring for positive reasons,” he told The Post.

Other staffers who worked for Harris before she was vice president noted that she would often be provided briefing materials but refuse to peruse them — and then complain to staff that she was unprepared.

“It’s clear that you’re not working with somebody who is willing to do the prep and the work,” a former staffer told the Post. “With Kamala, you have to put up with a constant amount of soul-destroying criticism and also her own lack of confidence. So you’re constantly sort of propping up a bully and it’s not really clear why.”

The Post added that Harris did not enter the vice presidency with a staff of veterans; only two worked for her before last year. President Biden, by comparison, “remains surrounded by staff who have been allied with him for large swaths of his five-decade career,” the Post noted.

Fox News media analyst Joe Concha assessed the departures in an interview with the network on Saturday.

“I guess when your boss’ approval ratings are at 28 percent and she’s polling even lower on her number one job, the U.S. southern border where migrants continue to flow over, two million passing over this year,” he said. “I guess I would leave too because this is a sinking ship.”

Jon Dougherty

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