Kamala Harris’ chief of staff Tina Flournoy is most senior staffer to quit during 12-person exodus
Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief of staff Tina Flournoy is leaving her position after 15 months — joining a growing list of Harris aides who have called it quits over the past year.
Flournoy led Harris’ team through a turbulent period punctuated by reported tensions with West Wing staff and vexing tasks given by President Biden to his No. 2., such as reducing illegal immigration and passing federal election reforms.
“Tina has been a valued advisor and confidant to me and tremendous leader for the office,” Harris said in a statement.
“From day 1, she led our team during a historic first year as we made progress rebuilding our economy here at home and our alliances around the world. Tina is the consummate public servant and I will continue to rely on her advice, counsel and friendship.”
The reason for Flournoy’s departure was not immediately clear.
Flournoy spearheaded staffing for Harris and served as an important link between the veep and outside Democratic allies and activists. But the office experienced rapid staff turnover, as happened in Harris’ prior political roles.
Among the high-profile aides who have departed Harris’s office are chief spokesperson Symone Sanders, deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh, director of digital strategies Rajun Kaur, director of advance Karly Satkowiak, deputy director of advance Gabrielle DeFranceschi, communications director Ashley Etienne, director of press operations Peter Velz, deputy director of public engagement Vince Evans, speechwriting director Kate Childs Graham and national security adviser Nancy McEldowney.
The departures happened amid a cascade of press reports describing a toxic environment among the VP’s staff, and Flournoy did not escape unscathed. According to a June 2021 Politico report, her efforts to protect Harris from criticism led to her dismissing or ignoring staff ideas, refusing to delegate responsibility, unnecessarily prolonging decisions, and blaming those under her for negative outcomes.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” one unnamed source told the outlet. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated. It’s not a place where people feel supported but a place where people feel treated like s—.”
Others pointed the finger at Harris herself, claiming similar work environments existed when she was a senator from California and the Golden State’s attorney general.
According to disgruntled former aides who spoke to the Washington Post late last year, Harris is an office “bully” with a “soul-destroying” management style.
Lorraine Voles will take over as Harris’ chief of staff. Voles currently is a senior adviser to the VP and is a former spokesman for Vice President Al Gore, George Washington University and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Although her departure comes amid a staffing sea change, Flournoy served longer than former Vice President Mike Pence’s first chief of staff, Josh Pitcock, who lasted just six months.
Before Pence, Biden had three chiefs of staff in his eight years as vice president — Ron Klain, Bruce Reed and Steve Ricchetti — all of whom now work for him at the White House, with Klain as chief of staff.