OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
Vice President Kamala Harris is coming under more scrutiny as staff are abandoning ship on her again, with some describing a bullying type atmosphere in her office.
The Washington Post interviewed current and former staffers, many on the condition of anonymity, and they gave some candid responses to what it is like working for Harris.
“It’s clear that you’re not working with somebody who is willing to do the prep and the work,” a former staffer said to 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.”
Bearstar Strategies partner Sean Clegg who advised Harris during her career defended the vice president as a tough boss but not a bully.
“She has put me personally in the position of feeling like Jeff Sessions,” he said, referring to when the former senator and attorney general said Harris “makes me nervous.”
“People personalize these things,” he said. “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.’”
But taking a swipe at Donald Trump and leaning on the gender card are not going to save Harris from the departures of her staff and her historically abysmal poll numbers.
Still, the quartet of announced departures were all for jobs that helped shape the vice president’s image to the American people — important roles for one of the nation’s most closely watched politicians, one whose first year missteps have been picked apart in the public eye.
As Harris looks for a new communications director and press secretary, several of her former communications aides are working in top roles at government agencies: Lily Adams, her former campaign and Senate communications director, works at the Treasury Department; Rebecca Chalif, her deputy communications director on the campaign, now works as the director of press at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Ian Sams, national press secretary for Harris’s campaign, and Kirsten Allen, deputy national press secretary, are at the Department of Health and Human Services.
In July it was reported that some staffers believed her office was abusive.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” a person that Politico claims knows how her office works, said. “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—.”
The report said that members of Joe Biden’s staff have noticed and are concerned about how members of Harris’ team are treated.
But Harris’ spokeswoman Symone Sanders defended Harris and said the claims are unfounded.
“Black women like me would not have the opportunity to work in politics without Tina.” She said before speaking of those who have complained anonymously, “People are cowards to do this this way.”
“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,’” she said. “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.”
But some say that some staffers are looking for other jobs and others have already quit. Two top staffers, Karly Satkowiak and Gabrielle DeFranceschi, recently quit their positions of Harris’ staff in what officials say were long planned.
DeFranceschi, the deputy director of advance, quitting the job was because of a “difference in opinion on how things should run,” a person who said they have knowledge of the situation said.
“If you have an opinion about how things should run and it’s not listened to, that can be frustrating,” the person said.