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Amy Klobuchar mistreatment accusations pose challenge to 2020 campaign

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Days before she is expected to publicly announce whether she plans to run for president in the 2020 election, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is facing accusations of mistreating her staff, according to a numerous news reports published this week.

And according to a HuffPo report, Klobuchar’s allegedly fraught interactions with staffers have made it difficult for her to staff up for her expected campaign.

According to several former staffers and emails cited by HuffPo and BuzzFeed News, Klobuchar had a tendency to criticize employees harshly which, according to the publications, dampened the overall mood in the office.

In emails reviewed by BuzzFeed, Klobuchar is said to have sent angry early morning messages criticizing employee mistakes. The congresswoman had also reportedly threatened to fire employees via email.

In addition to allegedly channeling her anger through emails, Klobuchar’s alleged behavior turned physical, a witness said to BuzzFeed. Klobuchar threw papers and other objects — including a binder that hit an aide — the witness said. The person added that Klobuchar did not intend to hit the aide.

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Her alleged unpredictable anger — which could be provoked by an iPad that wasn’t fully charged, or alleged pet-peeves like using staples or an improperly packed suitcase — left some staffers in tears, according to BuzzFeed’s sources.

Three former employees told HuffPo they were tasked with, or witnessed, others running personal errands for Klobuchar, including washing her dishes at home. Ethics rules stipulate that Senate staffers are paid for “official legislative and representational duties” only, and are not expected to perform “personal or other non-official activities … on behalf of others.”

But other former staffers called Klobuchar a hard worker and said she demands the same from her staffers. Some of the former staffers suggested the unflattering reports may have been gender-motivated — that her male counterparts would not have been criticized for being demanding bosses.

“I’ve heard people say she’s tough to work for and I sometimes cringe when I hear it because I rarely hear that said about male bosses in Congress despite the fact that half of Congress is tough to work for,” former legislative aide Tristan Brown told HuffPo.

But another former female employee disputed the notion.

“I knew her reputation going in, and I rationalized it, because I thought that was what was going on — I thought people were saying that because she was a woman,” one former Klobuchar staffer said to BuzzFeed. “I regret that now.”

Her personality drew concern from other Democrats who privately discussed the matter with Klobuchar. In 2015, Harry Reid, then the Senate minority leader, reportedly told Klobuchar to adjust her alleged behavior, several people with knowledge of the incident said in a separate HuffPo report.

Klobuchar’s office was reportedly the top-ranking Senate office in terms of staff turnover between 2001 and 2016, according to Legistorm, a congressional salary database. For 2001-2017, Klobuchar dropped to third in Legistorm’s “Worst Bosses” category.

A campaign spokesperson told HuffPo Klobuchar “loves her staff,” and that “they are the reason she has gotten to where she is today.”

Klobuchar’s office did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s request for comment.

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