- The chief of staff to Kamala Harris has shut out several key allies, according to a CNBC report.
- Tina Flournoy is a veteran of Washington politics.
- She often steers policy-related questions away from Harris, per CNBC.
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The chief of staff to Vice President Kamala Harris has shut out a group of longtime political and business allies from reaching the former California senator as the Biden administration grapples over voting rights and immigration at the US-Mexico border, according to a CNBC report on Tuesday.
Harris, who was inaugurated as vice president in January, has failed to return phone calls to several individuals who describe themselves as part of her inner circle, which includes key backers of her 2016 Senate and 2020 presidential campaigns, CNBC reported.
Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff, is a veteran of Washington politics, having worked in roles from Democratic National Committee counsel to the leader of former President Bill Clinton’s staff, and she reportedly runs a tight ship when it comes to communicating with the vice president, according to CNBC.
Flournoy facilitates Harris speaking regularly with President Joe Biden, family members, a close circle of friends, and strategists, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke with CNBC.
However, Flournoy “exerts her power as a gatekeeper to the vice president,” with some of Harris’ allies who work outside the the federal government “struggling to get their calls returned after years of regularly being in touch with her,” the report added.
One person familiar with Flournoy’s interactions said that the chief of staff sometimes asks people, “What is it that you want from the vice president?”
If an individual expresses that they would like to have a brief talk with Harris, Flournoy reportedly informs them that the opportunity to speak with the vice president “will come at future private events,” according to CNBC.
Flournoy often steers policy-related questions away from Harris and directs them to the vice president’s advisors, the report went on to say.
A few allies have asked to speak with second gentleman Douglas Emhoff in order to get to Harris, but many of those calls have also not been returned, according to CNBC.
Chiefs of staff are expected to hold a pivotal gatekeeper role, managing who can speak with a particular political figure.
A Harris ally who has access to the vice president spoke of their intent to maintain their relationship with Flournoy, declining to give the chief of staff’s email address to another donor who requested it, according to CNBC.
Another Harris ally who is in contact with Flournoy told CNBC that they have accepted that the vice president is simply in a higher-level role.
“There’s no question she [Flournoy] is a strong chief of staff and there’s no question that she is very focused on making sure that the VP is able to be focusing on the coronavirus pandemic and getting people vaccinated, the border, voting rights,” the ally said.