Sen. Amy Klobuchar sure seems to be gearing up to run for president. A few days ago, she announced that she’ll be making a Big Announcement next Sunday in Minneapolis. Klobuchar doesn’t have the same level of name recognition as candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, but she is very popular in Minnesota, where she has won two reelections by more than 20 points in a state that’s still considered purple.
Today, a story from HuffPost indicates a group that Kobuchar is apparently less popular with—her Congressional staff, who say that she mistreated them during her time in office. According to their report, at least three people have withdrawn from consideration for positions on her potential presidential campaign because of her reputation as a bad boss.
It is common for staff to wake up to multiple emails from Klobuchar characterizing one’s work as “the worst” briefing or press release she’d seen in her decades of public service, according to two former aides and emails seen by HuffPost.
Although some staffers grew inured to her constant put-downs (“It’s always ‘the worst,’” one said sarcastically, “‘It was ‘the worst’ one two weeks ago”), others found it grinding and demoralizing. Adding to the humiliation, Klobuchar often cc’d large groups of staffers who weren’t working on the topic at hand, giving the emails the effect of a public flogging. [...]
One morning several years ago, when most of the office staff was running late — the ex-staffer couldn’t remember the reason — Klobuchar wrote out tardy slips and placed them on each missing aide’s desk. The staffer recalls incredulous bursts of laughter as her co-workers arrived one by one to find the notes, but Klobuchar was deadly serious. An aide whom she called into her office walked back out in tears.
Yeah, that doesn’t sound great.
Other staffers disputed these accounts, saying that Klobuchar simply has high standards she expects her staff to meet. They said working for her was challenging but worth it. Some also speculated that some of the negative perceptions about her standards might stem from sexist assumptions about female bosses.
“I’ve heard people say she’s tough to work for and I sometimes cringe when I hear it because I rarely hear that said about male bosses in Congress despite the fact that half of Congress is tough to work for,” Tristan Brown, a former legislative aid for Klobuchar told HuffPost. He called her “probably the most brilliant, hardworking person I’ve had the privilege to work for.”
Another former staffer, Erik Garcia Luna, remembered Klobuchar calling staffers during the 2013 government shutdown to check on them. “I don’t know what to make of [the accusations], to be frank,” he told HuffPost.
“Senator Klobuchar loves her staff―they are the reason she has gotten to where she is today,” a Klobuchar spokesperson told HuffPost. “She has many staff who have been with her for years―including her Chief of Staff and her State Director, who have worked for her for 5 and 7 years respectively―and many who have gone on to do amazing things, from working in the Obama Administration (over 20 of them) to running for office to even serving as the Agriculture Commissioner for Minnesota. She is proud of them and the work they have done for Minnesota.”
However, Klobuchar’s office has one of the Senate’s highest turnover rates. Her office was number one for staff turnover from 2001 to 2016, and has now dropped to number three.
“She was constantly lighting new fires,”one former staffer told HuffPost. “When you have people who don’t want to work for you, you can’t be as effective.”
Klobuchar may have more than just staffing problems in 2020. For her reelection in 2018, she reported $635,000 in corporate PAC donations. With many candidates vowing to refuse corporate money, her ties to these donors could be a major issue for a Democrats. Last year, she was also one of 33 Democrats who let down DACA recipients by voting to reopen the government. In a crowded field with a Democratic Party that’s moving quickly to the left, these spots on her record could be difficult to overcome.