Two more reports of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s alleged maltreatment of her staff emerged just two days prior to her likely presidential campaign announcement on Sunday. According to BuzzFeed News, four former staffers claim that Klobuchar’s behavior “regularly left employees in tears.” The senator allegedly tossed papers and “one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder,” according to a person who was in the room and who noted that the senator did not intend the throw to make contact.
In a similar report from HuffPost, a former staffer to disgraced Minnesota Senator Al Franken recalled an incident in which Klobuchar directed an aide to berate herself:
A young Klobuchar staffer was sent to explain the senator’s lateness to the Franken staffer.
“I’m supposed to tell you,” she said, with a look of terror on her face, “Senator Klobuchar is late today because I am bad at my job.”
According to emails seen by BuzzFeed News, Klobuchar consistently rebuked her staff in all caps, often over minor mistakes and at odd hours, frequently sending messages between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. The senator would reportedly become angry if a staffer did not charge her iPad or if they used staples instead of paper clips. Her reputation as a demanding boss was so well known that, in 2015, retired Nevada Senator Harry Reid reportedly told her to reconsider her management tactics.
HuffPost also obtained an eight-page memo from Klobuchar’s 2006 Senate run, detailing the responsibilities and challenges of Klobuchar’s body person:
“Especially while in the car during a busy day: if she is EXTREMELY upset about something, let her rant through it, DON’T interupt [sic] her unless ABSOLUTELY necessary and be careful when trying to calm her down … Often she just needs to talk things out in the open and is not interested in other people’s opinions ― this is something that you will become used to and adjust to ― its just a note for the first time this happens.”
HuffPost spoke to a former advance man — the staffer who arrives ahead of time to prepare an event for a politician’s arrival — who said that the memo was inappropriate at points, like when it tells aides, “Only speak when spoken to at events.” The memo also requested that the body person “hang up clothes she leaves laying on the floor” and “pick up dirty clothes & place in a basket.” “Staff are staff, they’re not maids,” said the advance man.
It’s unclear how much fallout this will create for Klobuchar, who promoted the self-branding “Minnesota Nice” in her 2015 memoir, The Senator Next Door. In the initial report from Wednesday, HuffPost did reveal that the senator’s management style has reportedly caused at least three people to withdraw from consideration for the role of Klobuchar’s campaign manager. (From 2001 to 2016, Klobuchar also had the highest staff turnover rate in the Senate.) “Senator Klobuchar loves her staff — they are the reason she has gotten to where she is today,” a campaign spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “She is proud of them and the work they have done for Minnesota.”
Some staffers have claimed that sexism has clouded the controversy around Klobuchar’s reputation. “Women shouldn’t be expected to nurture their employees or colleagues more than men, and they should be no less entitled to challenge them,” said Asal Sayas, a staffer that Klobuchar’s office forwarded to BuzzFeed News. But others considered the criticism well-founded. “I knew her reputation going in, and I rationalized it, because I thought that was what was going on — I thought people were saying that because she was a woman,” a former staffer told BuzzFeed News. “I regret that now.” Another former aide said that “I don’t think this is one of those situations” that can be attributed to sexism. “If it were a man doing these things, that story should be written.” Either way, the growing allegations may not be great for the 2020 ambitions of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor leader — the third word of the state party being the operative one.