Kamala Harris' Staffers Reportedly Describe Her as 'Soul-Destroying', 'Bully'
Since July, reports have been circulating in the US media about Vice President Kamala Harris' trouble in paradise: not only have several of her employees complained about the toxicity of the work environment, but some top Biden aides were reportedly looking down on her team. Now, top staffers seem to either be jumping ship or considering doing so.
A new report has revealed that US Vice President Kamala Harris can be a "bully" who forces her employees to deal with "soul-destroying criticism".
Amid the exodus of employees from Kamala Harris' office, such as her longtime aide Symone Sanders and communications director Ashley Etienne, several current and former VP staffers expressed their feelings to The Washington Post
about her leadership and management style.
Former Harris aide Gil Duran wondered who would be "the next talented people you're going to bring in and burn through and then have (them) pretend they're retiring for positive reasons".
In one of his recent columns
, he said that Harris' "same old destructive patterns" could be behind the exit of Sanders and Etienne.
"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", Duran told The Washington Post.
He is not the only one to share feelings of frustration with the vice president's management style, as the newspaper spoke to some 18 of her current and former employees. Some of them also revealed that Harris is not particularly a keen reader of her briefing materials, but it is her staffers who end up being blamed for that.
"It's clear that you're not working with somebody who is willing to do the prep and the work", one staffer said. "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".
Still, not everyone is willing to attack the vice president over her leadership. There are some defenders, who argue that even though Harris can be a "tough" boss, she has never been unfair. Sean Clegg, a Harris staffer since 2008, also shared his thoughts on where the VP falls when it comes to the "line between demanding and demeaning", even drawing a comparison between her and former President Donald Trump.
"People personalise these things", he continued. "I've never had an experience in my long history with Kamala, where I felt like she was unfair. Has she called bulls---? Yes. And does that make people uncomfortable sometimes? Yes. But if she were a man with her management style, she would have a TV show called 'The Apprentice'".
New revelations from the vice presidential office come as it continues to lose staffers: just several days ago, Harris' longtime aide Symone Sanders officially announced her departure from the VP's team. Among those deciding to part ways with Harris are communications director Ashley Etienne, director of press operations Peter Velz, and deputy director of public engagement Vince Evans.
None of them have directly associated their exit with any toxicity or dysfunctionality in the vice presidential office. Sanders, for her part, said she "deserved a break" and wanted to devote more time to her personal life, particularly to plan her upcoming wedding. Harris herself said she "loves Symone" and was eager to see what she will be up to next.
4 December 2021, 10:58 GMT
Yet, reports continue to flow in, suggesting those individuals leaving Harris' office are not only fed up with the toxic work environment there, but also are concerned about being referred to as "a Harris person"
in their future career.
As Kamala Harris struggles to weather the media storm that has already formed around the exodus of her staffers, it raises questions about her prospects not only as the vice president, but also as a Democratic favourite should President Joe Biden decide not to run for the presidency in 2024.
Her future is also being overshadowed by her record-low approval ratings - at one point even lower than those of President Biden - and some missteps in other areas of her vice-presidential portfolio like tackling the border crisis or addressing voter rights. According to her critics, she has not managed to do much in either of those areas.