It’s like “Veep,” but real and less funny.
A bombshell Politico report published Wednesday describes Vice President Kamala Harris’ office as “chaotic” with a “tense and at times dour” atmosphere — a place where, as one source memorably put it, “people feel treated like s–t.”
The report, which cited nearly two dozen “current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden,” pointed the finger at Harris herself for the dysfunction as well as Tina Flournoy, a longtime Democratic operative who works as Harris’ chief of staff and gatekeeper.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” said the same source who claimed staffers are “treated like s—.” “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated.”
Sources quoted by Politico described an insular environment marked by a failure to get on the same page for big moments, like the announcement of Harris’ trip last week to the US-Mexico border. On that occasion, the VP’s underlings — including those responsible for making travel arrangements – reportedly were blindsided and left scrambling to make sure everything was in order.
According to Politico, Flournoy’s efforts to protect Harris from flak have led to her dismissing or ignoring staff ideas, refusing to delegate responsibility, unnecessarily prolonging decisions, and blaming those under her for negative outcomes.
So complete is Flournoy’s control over who sees and speaks with Harris, the report states, that even a friend of Harris who tried to connect the vice president with a top Democratic donor for a meeting waited weeks for a response before being told Harris was too busy.
“This is someone who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars—millions, even—for your boss and you’re just blowing them off?” the Harris friend asked Politico. “Next time Kamala wants [them] for something, it’s like, ‘Hey, I couldn’t even get a call-back from your chief of staff!’”
The report recalls the final days of Harris’ abortive 2020 presidential campaign, which was launched amid great fanfare only to flame out a month before the Iowa caucus.
Days before Harris dropped out, The New York Times printed a resignation letter from the campaign’s state operations director which claimed: “This is my third presidential campaign and I have never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly.”
Symone Sanders, a Harris senior adviser and chief spokesperson, decried Politico’s anonymous sources as “cowards” for airing their complaints in the media.
“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 told the outlet. “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.”