Former staffers of Vice President Kamala Harris have described a toxic environment in her offices dating back more than a decade, just days after her employees claimed they are 'treated like sh**t'.
Reports of an 'abusive' workplace atmosphere in the Vice President's office, published by Politico, have resonated with staffers who worked for Harris while she held senior positions such as US senator.
'So many people recognized themselves in it, or recognized treatment they had seen or treatment they had heard about and dismissed,' one former staffer told Business Insider.
They added that they had sent a link to the report to their therapist with a message that read: 'Rarely in life are we publicly vindicated.'
Some of the former staffers recalled the now Vice President as 'unpredictable and at times demeaning', according to the report based on interviews with 12 ex-employees who worked for Harris while she was San Francisco's district attorney between 2004 and 2011, California's attorney general from 2011 to 2017 and most recently US senator.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Barbara O'Connor, a communications professor at California State University in Sacramento told Insider that at least 20 interns who had worked in Harris' attorney general and Senate officers had come to her crying because they 'felt they weren't valued' there.
Former staffers of Vice President Kamala Harris have described a toxic environment in her offices dating back more than a decade, just days after her employees claimed they are 'treated like sh**t
Barbara O'Connor claimed at least 20 interns working at Harris' offices had come to her crying
O'Connor said she transferred around five interns out of the offices at the time.
A former aide to Harris claimed that when she was attorney general in California there was 'a sense of paranoia in that office, that you never knew when she was going to snap at you'. Another said the workplace was 'toxic' and 'reactionary'.
Several ex-staffers also claim Harris would call their office and hang up on them 'all the time' if they did not give her the information quick enough.
One said Harris got frustrated on the phone after she couldn't find a staffer she was looking for. 'I don't understand what's taking so long,' Harris allegedly snapped before hanging up, the former staffer said. 'And I'm just sitting there just shell-shocked.'
Another said: 'If she called in to talk, and then changed her mind, she would just hang up the phone on you.'Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Others said Harris would want to be briefed on issues usually three days in advance - but would sometimes move up meetings without telling her staff and criticize them if they hadn't prepared.
'She would move that time slot up so you would be within the 72-hour window without the materials,' said one former staffer. Harris would pull out the unfinished briefing notes and say: 'You and I both know that these need to be in three days before we do this briefing.'
Tina Flournoy, Kamala Harris' Chief of Staff, was accused of creating a 'blame culture'
The source claimed Harris would then either want to be briefed meaning aides would brief 'somebody who's angry or thinks you've failed,' or refuse to have the meeting with 'a lot of verbal abuse about why she wasn't prepared'.
During her presidential campaign, Harris would have several events a day and a former staff member said they would sometimes have to edit briefing documents for 'trivial reasons'.
The source said: 'Oftentimes the way she digests information is by editing or demanding edits to briefing documents. I think it's how she internalizes facts, but also it's frustrating if you're having to redo something for relatively trivial reasons.'
They added that the campaign staff had to travel with a battery-powered printer to reprint note cards and briefing documents in various locations.
But top White House officials have defended Harris amid the allegations, accusing critics of a 'whispering campaign' designed to bring her down.
While the sources cited in the Politico report claimed Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy had created a 'blame culture' where 'ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals', the former employees who spoke with Business Insider allege Harris was the problem for them.
'[L]ol that everyone is pointing to her [Flournoy] when it's obvi KDH,' an ex-aide texted another former colleague in response to the Politico report while referring to Harris by her initials.
But not all of Harris' former staffers were critical of her, with one describing how working at her office was the best job she's had.
'I learned so much and I also saw the person and not just the politician,' she said. 'I love her, I really do.'
Tensions started to boil over after Harris finally decided to visit the border last month, blindsiding staffers
Jeff Tsai, a former aide to Harris while she was California's attorney general, said 'all of the paces she put us through were the same paces she put herself through'.
Another former staffer in the same office said everyone 'loved Harris', but they were 'so stressed that they were making themselves sick. Is that toxic? I don't know'.
Tensions within Harris' Vice President office reportedly boiled over in late June when Harris finally decided to visit the border with Mexico.
The outlet cited 22 officials, former officials, aides and associates of President Biden and Harris who described low morale, a tense atmosphere, porous lines of communication and diminished trust. Much of the blame was directed at Flournoy.
'People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it's an abusive environment,' said one source.
'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**t.'
Tina Flournoy, pictured, has allegedly created an environment where 'ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out'
But top White House officials mobilized to defend Harris, accusing anonymous critics of a 'whispering campaign' designed to bring her down.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Axios: 'The president's trust and confidence in her is obvious when you see them in the Oval Office together.'
He said her talents and determination had already made a big difference to some of the toughest challenges facing the administration.
'She's delivering for the American people on immigration, small business, voting rights, and economic growth, he added.
'The results speak for themselves: a decline of border arrivals from the Northern Triangle, improved vaccine equity, and increased economic opportunities for women.'
Sources claimed that President Biden's office was concerned about the treatment of staff
When asked about the reports during her daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said she tried not to 'speak to or engage on anonymous reports.'
'The vice president is an incredibly important partner to the president of the United States,' she added.
'She has a challenging job, a hard job and she has a great supportive team of people around her.'
Cedric Richmond, senior adviser to Biden, dismissed the anonymous criticism, saying: 'It's a whisper campaign designed to sabotage her.'
He said she remained in high demand for public events.
'At some point it just becomes, one person says something long enough and it becomes an urban legend,' he said.
'It doesn't have to be credible. It doesn't have to be real. Someone says something and it can just snowball.'
Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to Biden, dismissed the anonymous criticism as a 'whispering campaign.' He said: 'It doesn’t have to be credible. It doesn’t have to be real.