Yet another top-level aide to Vice President Kamala Harris is heading for the exit.
This time, her communications director, Jamal Simmons, announced he would be leaving after less than one year. In a recent email to others in Harris’ office, chief of staff Lorraine Voles downplayed the significance of Simmons’ departure, writing that he “agreed to come on board for a year” last January.
— New York Post (@nypost) December 3, 2022
Voles went on to describe his time in the position as a success, asserting that the “results are evident” as he prepares to leave the administration.
The vice president’s chief of staff noted that when she was looking for someone to help her “steady the ship” after a tumultuous period in the office, she was convinced that Simmons would be the ideal candidate.
While Voles claimed that Simmons had only expected to serve as communications director for a year, she seemed to acknowledge that the office had not yet found his replacement. Her email confirmed that she would be “working with the Communications team to determine next organizational steps.”
Although it has been a while since a prominent figure in the vice president’s office has made such an announcement, staff turnover became quite common for a period of time amid complaints of a toxic work environment.
As of July, more than a dozen senior aides had already exited the administration since Inauguration Day the previous year. More than a year earlier, nearly two dozen individuals close to Harris detailed a pattern of behavior throughout her political career that made it difficult to work for her.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top,” one source said at the time. “There are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment. 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—.”
Symone Sanders, who was then the vice president’s chief spokesperson, dismissed the “cowards” who spoke about the work environment anonymously, asserting: “We are not making rainbows and bunnies all day. What I hear is that people have hard jobs and I’m like ‘welcome to the club.’”