Former Aides: Klobuchar 'Dehumanizing,' Not Simply 'Demanding'

Sen. Amy Klobuchar / Getty
February 22, 2019

Interviews with more than two dozen former staff members for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) revealed her aides found her to often be "dehumanizing."

"As Ms. Klobuchar joins the 2020 presidential race, many of these former aides say she was not just demanding but often dehumanizing — not merely a tough boss in a capital full of them but the steward of a work environment colored by volatility, highhandedness and distrust," the New York Times reports, based on interviews with former staffers and reviews of internal emails.

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.

Klobuchar "feared sabotage from her own team," even suggesting in one email that there was a mole, the Times reported. The Minnesota senator also "frequently suggested that her aides were preventing her from greater standing in Washington and beyond, former staff members said," the report found.

Most of the people interviewed by the Times did so on the condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisals from Klobuchar. To protect themselves from possible retaliation after leaving her office, aides would often save "potentially damaging emails from Ms. Klobuchar ... in case they ever needed evidence of her conduct for their own reputational protection."

Klobuchar would throw binders and phones in the direction of aides when frustrated, according to the report, and low-level employees were tasked with activities such as washing her dishes.

The Times report comes in the wake of other articles revealing allegations Klobuchar mistreated her staff.

HuffPost reported earlier this month that at least three people withdrew from consideration to lead Klobuchar's campaign "in part because of the Minnesota Democrat’s history of mistreating her staff." Klobuchar was "habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty that make it difficult to work in her office for long," former staffers told HuffPost.

Another HuffPost article reported former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke to Klobuchar privately about her mistreatment of staff.

As for Klobuchar's apparent penchant for throwing objects, "one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen, though the staffer said the senator did not intend to hit anyone with the binder when she threw it," BuzzFeed News reported.

Klobuchar's office has consistently had one of the highest staff turnover rates in the Senate.