After a pair of damning HuffPost stories and another by BuzzFeed News about Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s horrible alleged treatment of her staff, the New York Times today has its own story out about the 2020 presidential candidate’s relationship with her staff. This is how it begins:
Senator Amy Klobuchar was hungry, forkless and losing patience.
An aide, joining her on a trip to South Carolina in 2008, had procured a salad for his boss while hauling their bags through an airport terminal. But once onboard, he delivered the grim news: He had fumbled the plastic eating utensils before reaching the gate, and the crew did not have any forks on such a short flight.
What happened next was typical: Ms. Klobuchar berated her aide instantly for the slip-up. What happened after that was not: She pulled a comb from her bag and began eating the salad with it, according to four people familiar with the episode.
Then she handed the comb to her staff member with a directive: Clean it
Allow me to be the first to say that this is possibly the grossest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.
The story doesn’t get much better from there. Former aides who spoke to the Times recounted episodes where Klobuchar and top aides “could complicate the future job opportunities” of staffers who left, and instances of Klobuchar holding nothing back as she berated her staff. From the Times:
“This is the worst press staff I ever had,” she announced once to employees, according to an aide present. This was effectively a rite of passage, the aide said: The senator had plainly said the same about both predecessors and successors in the office.
There was also the matter of her parental leave policy:
Among other concerns, her office’s paid parental leave policy has been described as unusual on Capitol Hill. Two people familiar with the policy said that those who took paid leave were effectively required, once they returned, to remain with the office for three times as many weeks as they had been gone. The policy, outlined in an employee handbook, called for those who left anyway to pay back money earned during the weeks they were on leave.
After receiving questions about the policy from The Times, Ms. Klobuchar’s office said it would be revised. “We offer 12 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave for our staff and have one of the strongest paid leave policies in the Senate,” said a spokeswoman, Elana Ross. “We’ve never made staff pay back any of their leave and will be changing that language in the handbook.” She declined to provide a copy of the current policy as written.
The stories track with what other outlets have reported about Klobuchar’s behavior. (Splinter’s Libby Watson, for instance, recently spoke to two former Klobuchar aides, one of whom claimed to have witnessed Klobuchar throwing things at staffers, and another who said she went into rages about typos in tweets.)
Klobuchar’s current staff, as it did with the HuffPost and BuzzFeed stories, sought to downplay the story. “The senator has repeatedly acknowledged that she can be tough and push people hard,” campaign spokeswoman Carlie Weibel told the Times. “But these anonymous stories—some of which are just plain ridiculous—do not overshadow the countless experiences of people on the senator’s team who she has been so proud to work with.”
The Times noted that former aides stressed that their complaints about Klobuchar “should not be dismissed as gender bias.” But others, such as chief of staff Jonathan Becker, defended Klobuchar’s behavior, calling the intensity of working for her “exhilarating.”
Read the full Times story here.