- Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is facing a slew of staff mistreatment allegations, according to five separate news reports.
- More than a dozen former staffers anonymously told the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, and BuzzFeed News that Klobuchar was prone to verbal outbursts in the office and to sending angry emails, often describing aides’ work as “the worst.”
- Two aides recounted to BuzzFeed and The New York Times that Klobuchar threw physical objects, including binders and phones, during those outbursts.
- Former aides also told the HuffPost, Yahoo, and The Times that Klobuchar retaliated against staff who tried to seek alternate employment by calling their new employers to have their job offers rescinded.
- While Klobuchar has acknowledged she can be a tough boss and can “push people too hard,” she maintains she loves her staff. Many former staffers have also spoken out in support of her, and decried the negative tone of the existing coverage.
- Here are all the allegations of staff mistreatment against Klobuchar.
By the time Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her campaign for president in mid-February, news outlets had already started to publish stories alleging that Klobuchar created a toxic office environment, regularly berating and even retaliating against her staff.
Klobuchar’s representatives have declined to clearly deny or refute most of the allegations contained in five separate news reports from the Huffington Post, Yahoo News, BuzzFeed News, and The New York Times, often referring reporters to staffers who said positive things about Klobuchar as a boss.
“Senator Klobuchar loves her staff ― they are the reason she has gotten to where she is today,” her campaign said in a statement to the Huffington Post. “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.”
In an open letter to editors, 60 former Klobuchar staffers accused news outlets who published negative stories about Klobuchar, including The New York Times, of not including the “positive anecdotes and stories” many of them had shared with the Times and other publications.
“Amy would be there for us after a loss in the family or help make an important call instrumental to our careers,” they wrote. “We remain grateful for our time in Senator Klobuchar’s office and still consider Amy a mentor and friend. Sadly, this was not fully conveyed in the recent news reports.”
When asked about the mounting reports at a CNN town hall, Klobuchar did not directly refute any of the accusations.
“Am I a tough boss sometimes? Yes,” she said. “Have I pushed people too hard? Yes. But I have kept expectations for myself that are very high. I’ve asked my staff to meet those same expectations.”
Congressional data website LegiStorm shows Klobuchar’s Senate office has the highest rate of staff turnover in the entire US Senate, with the Huffington Post reporting that at least three candidates turned down the job of managing her presidential campaign over her reported treatment of staff.
Klobuchar has been openly criticised for her management style going back as early as 2002, when she served as the chief prosecutor for Hennepin County in Minnesota.
One local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union – which represented many attorneys employed by Klobuchar’s office – requested that the union not endorse her 2006 Senate bid over her treatment of aides and prosecutors in the office, according to a letter reported on by the Huffington Post.
The letter charged that Klobuchar “created a hostile work environment” for employees, “refused to support their efforts for a fair wage adjustment” and “severely damaged the morale of the office.”
The same local chapter had also unsuccessfully requested that the union leadership not endorse her 2002 re-election bid for county attorney for similar reasons.
“[Klobuchar] believes the fear a Republican will be elected will preclude any review of her labour record. This must not happen. AFSCME will hold Klobuchar accountable for the shameful treatment of her employees,” the letter continued.
Klobuchar contends that she did in fact fight for the wage increase, and that the letter was a form of retribution over the failed negotiations.
Klobuchar’s Senate office did not respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.
Here are all the accusations made against Klobuchar in news reports:
- Former aides alleged in reports by The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, and Yahoo that Klobuchar verbally abused and exploded at staff in private and public, including in front of other members of Congress.
- At least four staffers told BuzzFeed and The New York Times that Klobuchar threw binders and phones in the direction of staffers during verbal outbursts, unintentionally hitting at least one aide.
- Multiple staffers in each of the four reports alleged that Klobuchar sent emails at all hours of the day and night berating staff in all-caps and calling their work “the worst” she had ever seen. “In 20 years in politics I have never seen worse prep,” she wrote in one email reported on by The New York Times.
- Klobuchar copied other staffers not involved in the situation on those emails to publicly humiliate aides she thought had produced bad work, former aides alleged in the BuzzFeed report.
- She also accused her staff of sabotaging both her career and her marriage, former staffers alleged in the Times story.
- The Senator retaliated against former staffers who tried to leave her office by calling their new employers and demanding they rescind their job offers, several aides told HuffPost, Yahoo News, and The Times. (Klobuchar’s office denied that she had ever disparaged her staff to other members of Congress).
- Klobuchar allegedly prevented one staffer from leaving her office to take a high-profile job in the US Treasury Department under the Obama administration, the aide told the Huffington Post.
- Multiple Senate and campaign staffers told the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Yahoo that they were required to perform personal errands and tasks like washing dishes, folding laundry, cleaning Klobuchar’s house, and picking up her dry cleaning – which could be in violation of Senate ethics rules.
- The Huffington Post reported that Klobuchar was personally confronted by then-Senate minority leader Harry Reid over her treatment of her staff, a conversation Reid did not confirm and Klobuchar says she doesn’t recall.
- The local union that opposed her 2006 Senate run alleged she hired attorneys who would “support her ambitions” and be loyal to her at the expense of more qualified candidates while Hennepin County Attorney.
- The union also accused her of hindering wage increases for the attorneys working in her office to make them more on par with other county attorney’s offices, which she denied at the time.
- Klobuchar also told one union rep that it made sense for the highest-paid employees in the office to be paid less than the entry-level lawyers at her previous private firm because none of the Hennepin County attorneys were “competent enough” to work at her former law firm anyway, the letter claimed.
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