Amy Klobuchar's Treatment Of Her Staff Likely To Be An Issue In VP Vetting

Some former aides have accused the Minnesota senator of mistreating them over the years.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will likely have to answer questions about whether she mistreated her staff over the years as she undergoes vetting to be Joe Biden’s running mate.

“The vetters will feel like they have to take this seriously, certainly recycle the reporting, push her on it in an interview, demand to see any complaints filed if they exist and probably talk to people who worked for her,” said a prominent Democrat familiar with the vice presidential vetting process.

Biden has confirmed that he asked Klobuchar to undergo formal vetting to be his running mate, and she’s widely considered as being a top contender. Klobuchar dropped her presidential bid in early March, after pulling out a surprisingly strong showing in the Feb. 20 New Hampshire primary ― coming out ahead of Biden.

Klobuchar is charismatic on the trail, has a strong record of winning in her midwestern state, and is more ideologically aligned with Biden than other potential contenders, such as Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

“It would be extremely disappointing to see a vice presidential vetting process that didn’t take a serious look at Sen. Klobuchar’s treatment of staff.”

- Former Klobuchar staffer

But undergoing vetting is an intensive, invasive process. In 2016, Hillary Clinton’s team had finalists turn over passwords for all their social media accounts (and those of family members), copies of every resume they’d put out over the past 10 years, and list every property they’d ever owned.

The vetters will also want to scrutinize any potential problems or weaknesses ― past scandals, electoral vulnerabilities and, in Klobuchar’s case, the treatment of her staff over the years.

As HuffPost first reported last year, some former Klobuchar staffers described the senator as habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty that made it difficult to work for her. They said she ground down morale with constant and degrading late-night emails and claimed staff was required to perform personal duties for her — such as washing dishes in her home — in violation of Senate rules and federal laws against personal use of the office.

BuzzFeed reported that she even sometimes hurled objects when furious at staffers, and one aide was “accidentally hit with a flying binder, according to someone who saw it happen.”

Multiple sources also told HuffPost that in 2015, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) spoke privately to Klobuchar and asked her to change her behavior toward her staff.

“It would be extremely disappointing to see a vice presidential vetting process that didn’t take a serious look at Sen. Klobuchar’s treatment of staff,” said one person who once worked for her. “With so many qualified candidates, it doesn’t make any sense to select someone who has proven time and time again that she treats the people who work for her terribly behind closed doors.”

In response to the allegations last year, Klobuchar said she had “high standards for myself, high standards for our staff.”

“One can always do better, and that means you want to be sure that you are listening to people if they felt that something was unfair, or they felt bad about something. But I still think that you have to demand good product,” she said.

On Wednesday, Klobuchar’s office referred HuffPost to several former staffers who praised the senator and said they’d welcome her as vice president.

“I would expect any vetting process for ANY candidate, not just Senator Klobuchar, to talk to many ― if not all ― current and former staff. ... Having known and worked with her for more than 16 years, I’d certainly be prepared to have that vetting conversation if called. I count myself as one of many former staffers who not only supported her presidential run, but who also think she would make a great Vice President,” said Andrea Mokros, who has worked for Klobuchar’s Senate office and campaigns, as well as her presidential run.

“My experience with her and with the campaign is just really phenomenal. It was a great campaign,” said Scott Merrick, who was Klobuchar’s New Hampshire state director for her presidential campaign.

“I loved working for her,” he added. “I loved the time we spent together. She’s really an incredible person, and I think her work, in terms of building consensus and getting things done and being an effective leader, speaks for itself.”

The Biden campaign declined to comment on vetting.

Biden has stated publicly that he will be choosing a woman as his running mate. Some of his potential choices, like Warren or former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, could help him shore up parts of the Democratic base ― such as young people and progressives ― with whom he did not perform well in the primary.

He has also said he wants someone who is ready to govern and is in line with him ideologically.

“I’m going to pick someone who is simpatico with me philosophically,” he said last year. “Agrees with me. Now if you’re not, that’s O.K., I have great respect. But you’ve got to be able to turn and say to your vice president, ‘This is your responsibility.’ Because the job is too big anymore for any one man or woman.”

And at the end of the day, when it comes to allegations that Klobuchar mistreated her staff, “I don’t think this will matter much,” said the prominent Democrat familiar with the vetting process.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misattributed Scott Merrick’s quote.

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