Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) addressed her longstanding reputation of being especially difficult to work with on Thursday after an independent voter confronted her with concerns over how she would govern if she was elected president of the United States.
“I’m concerned about my next leader, so my question to you is: how are you going to govern and how are you going to pick people?” Lizzy Berbue, a retired respiratory care practitioner asked Klobuchar during a dinner with voters on an episode of ABC News’ “Around The Table.” “You have a wonderful bipartisan ability to pass bills, but what I’m concerned about — the one thing that has been said about you — that you’re difficult to work for. I know when you work for somebody who’s difficult it brings you down.”
“I love my staff … and one of the reasons we’re so successful, it’s not me, it’s them,” Klobuchar responded. “And I am tough on people, and you can always be better, and I push some people. And as a result of that a few of them didn’t like me.”
“You have a wonderful, bipartisan ability to pass bills, but…the one thing that has been said about you—that you’re difficult to work for.”
— ABC News (@ABC) November 7, 2019
The Democratic presidential hopeful has a reputation of being particularly surly, especially to her staff, and especially in private. Only days prior to Klobuchar’s campaign launch, multiple reports surfaced alleging that she is verbally abusive to her congressional staffers and that she creates an office environment fueled by intimidation.
“Behind the doors of her Washington D.C., office, the Minnesota Democrat ran a workplace controlled by fear, anger, and shame, according to interviews with eight former staffers, one that many employees found intolerably cruel,” BuzzFeed News reported in February. “She demeaned and berated her staff almost daily, subjecting them to bouts of explosive rage and regular humiliation within the office.”
One former staffer stated that Klobuchar would frequently yell and throw papers, and even recalled a time when another aide was hit with a binder during a fit of rage. The staffer stated, “I cried. I cried, like, all the time.”
Another report emerged weeks later detailing a story where a former staffer prepared a salad for the senator to eat during a flight in 2008. As the story goes, the staffer dropped the fork and was unable to find a new one prior to take off. Consequently, after Klobuchar castigated the staffer over the accident, she took out a comb from her bag and began to eat her salad with it. When she was finished, she demanded the staffer clean the comb.
She has denied the accuracy of both reports.
In late February, 61 people who previously had worked for Klobuchar penned an open letter, published in Medium, disputing the abuse allegations and further maintaining that the Minnesota lawmaker was both a “mentor and friend.” Klobuchar noted the letter to Berbue.
“Seventy [former staffers] wrote a letter with their names on it. All different people — the schedulers, the people who were my assistants, the chiefs of staff — saying they had a really good experience in our office,” Klobuchar told Berbue. “So, you always have that happen, but for me the key is having high standards for myself, my staff, and our country.”