Kamala Harris’s time as vice president has not worked out like anyone thought.
Now there is a major shakeup.
And this resignation announcement left Kamala Harris blindsided.
Harris’s communications director Jamal Simmons became at least the 15th Harris staffer to quit the vice president’s office in her first 23 months in office.
Simmons did his best to leave on good terms.
“Working for Vice President Harris has been an honor and a privilege,” a Simmons statement to POLITICO read. “I’m so thankful for the confidence she put in me and I will miss this fantastic team more than anything.”
Harris’s chief of staff Lorraine Voles said Simmons was brought on because he “could help me steady the ship,” and praised Simmons for building the “V.P’s digital presence and building relationships with national, regional and constituency media.”
Biden’s senior staff also tried to make this seem like a no-big-deal resignation and praised Simmons on his way out the door.
“Jamal has been a great partner in the vice president’s office and he is a talented member of our White House communications team,” Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn said in a statement to POLITICO. “He has been a vital driver in communicating the work of the vice president and our shared White House agenda during a very critical year, culminating in history-defying results.”
But Simmons’ exit was the latest in the exodus from Harris’s office that began last summer shortly after POLITICO published a bombshell piece about a toxic work environment Harris fostered.
The handling of the border visit was the latest chaotic moment for a staff that’s quickly become mired in them. Harris’ team is experiencing low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust among aides and senior officials. Much of the frustration internally is directed at Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff, a veteran of Democratic politics who began working for her earlier this year.
In interviews, 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris and Biden described a tense and at times dour office atmosphere. Aides and allies said Flournoy, in an apparent effort to protect Harris, has instead created an insular environment where ideas are ignored or met with harsh dismissals and decisions are dragged out. Often, they said, she refuses to take responsibility for delicate issues and blames staffers for the negative results that ensue.
The mass turnover in Harris’s office came on the heels of her disastrous 2020 presidential campaign which saw staff turmoil, confused messaging and Harris flaming out in November 2019 months before the first votes were cast.
And the totality of these circumstances led many Democrats to conclude that Harris is a political incompetent that is a sure-fire loser if she is the nominee in 2024 or 2028.
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