MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is holding a rally in downtown Minneapolis Sunday, where’s she expected to announce her bid for the presidency.
Klobuchar has enjoyed positive national press about her possible run until Wednesday, when the Huffington Post ran a story saying she’s been so abusive to some staff members, she’s having trouble finding anyone to run her presidential campaign.
The report paints a very different view of the woman who is widely seen as Minnesota’s most popular politician. The scathing article sites anonymous sources detailing the senator’s alleged abuse of her Senate staff.
The article says she is “habitually demeaning,” and prone to “bursts of cruelty.” The article also says that Klobuchar has asked that staffers perform personal errands, including washing her dishes and picking up her dry cleaning.
Sen. Klobuchar’s difficulties retaining staff have been well documented. Between 2001 and 2016, she had the highest turnover of any U.S. Senate office. Klobuchar now ranks third in turnover.
Her campaign staff released a statement, saying, “Senator Klobuchar loves her staff — they are the reason she has gotten to where she is today. She has many staff who have been with her for years.”
Political Analyst Kathryn Pearson said the timing of the story, on the eve of an expected presidential bid announcement, is difficult.
“Well, it’s damaging and it comes at a time when many people are just forming their views of Sen. Klobuchar,” Pearson said.
Jane Kirtley, the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, is troubled by the Huffington Post’s reliance on anonymous sources.
“If you are going to write a story taking these kinds of pot shots, they ought to put their name on it,” Kirtley said.
She also wonders if there is an underlying sexism in the article.
“Sometimes when women demand high standards, it’s interpreted as being unreasonable,” Kirtley said.
While a number of Klobuchar’s staff have not returned our phone calls, Mychal Vlatkovich, now a top staffer to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, said Klobuchar always had high standards — but was never abusive. He also says what he learned working for her has helped shape his career.
And Lee Sheehy, Klobuchar’s former chief of staff, says she was never abusive, and that “she was no more demanding of her staff than she was of herself.”
Deborah Calvert, Klobuchar’s former state scheduler, also came to her defense Thursday.
“It was a privilege to serve the Senator and the state because of her unmatched work ethic, her devotion to her constituents, her brilliance, and the confidence that we had in her that she would always be prepared, express herself respectfully and articulately, and do and say the right things for the right reasons,” Calvert said.