Kamala Harris’ chief of staff limits access to vice president

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris waits to communicate throughout an occasion on high-speed web access within the South Court Auditorium on the White House complicated on June 3, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Kamala Harris’ chief of staff has successfully shut out a number of longtime of the vice president’s political and enterprise world allies because the Biden administration contends with a number of challenges, together with battles over voting rights and the border, in accordance to folks accustomed to the matter.

Harris has not been returning telephone calls to individuals who have thought-about themselves members of her inside circle, together with donors and individuals who supported her Senate and White House runs, in accordance to some of the folks with data of the state of affairs. 

Under chief of staff Tina Flournoy’s watch, Harris speaks often to President Joe Biden, her members of the family, a good group of pals, and her strategists, these folks mentioned. The folks declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Yet as Flournoy, who constructed a troublesome repute whereas working for former President Bill Clinton, exerts her energy as a gatekeeper to the vice president, a number of of Harris’ allies exterior the federal authorities are struggling to get their calls returned after years of often being in contact along with her, some of these folks mentioned.

An individual accustomed to Flournoy’s dealing with of incoming communication with these associates says she typically begins a dialog asking, “What is it that you really want from the vice president?” If the particular person desires to simply say whats up and have a short dialog, Flournoy says that point will come at future non-public occasions.

If an individual desires to communicate to Harris about the place she stands on coverage, Flournoy will, at instances, say they cannot communicate to the vice president about coverage and can make an introduction to one of her coverage advisors.

Some of these identical advisors and donors try different routes, together with by trying to communicate with Douglas Emhoff, the vice president’s husband. Many of these calls have but to be returned, these folks mentioned.

Chiefs of staff, particularly these within the highest echelons of authorities, are anticipated to run a good ship for his or her bosses, together with by limiting who will get within the door for conferences or who reaches them on the telephone. In the vice president’s world, some allies can get in – however they guard their standing so that they do not run afoul of Flournoy. 

For occasion, an influential Democratic donor who raised cash for Harris’ failed bid for president not too long ago tried to attain out to the vice president, and had but to obtain a name again. Then this particular person determined to contact Flournoy. 

That did not work. The donor reached out to a fellow Democratic financier for Flournoy’s contact data. But the guy financier declined to share Flournoy’s e-mail tackle for worry of dropping access themselves.

Another Harris supporter mentioned she hasn’t heard from the vice president since a name with supporters through the transition interval.

While Flournoy has made it harder to get in contact with Harris, some of the vice president’s supporters settle for it as a consequence of Harris constructing out her portfolio. Harris not too long ago made her first visit as vice president to the U.S.-Mexico border, she touted President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus reduction invoice, and is anticipated to have a role engaged on felony justice reform, amongst different gadgets.

One particular person shut to Harris mentioned they appreciated what Flournoy is doing and has accepted that it is merely going to be tougher to get in contact with Harris now that she is vice president and begins engaged on big-ticket initiatives.

“There’s no query she [Flournoy] is a robust chief of staff and there is no query that she may be very centered on ensuring that the VP is ready to be specializing in the coronavirus pandemic and getting folks vaccinated, the border, voting rights,” mentioned one other Harris ally who has spoken to Flournoy. 

“So by ensuring that she is ready to give attention to what she’s being charged with, there might be people who find themselves not essentially getting access as a result of the chief of staff is prioritizing these duties for the VP over political outreach,” this particular person defined.

A spokeswoman for Harris didn’t return a request for remark.

In this May 31, 2008 file photograph, Tina Flournoy, then Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws committee member, throughout a listening to in Washington.

Susan Walsh | AP

Flournoy’s background

Flournoy has deep roots in Washington, D.C., and is a veteran of the mainstream Democratic institution.

In the latter half of the Nineteen Eighties, she labored as a regulation clerk for Julia Cooper Mack,  a decide on the D.C. Court of Appeals, earlier than leaping into politics, in accordance to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

CRP additionally says she later had stints as a counsel for the Democratic National Convention, as a frontrunner on Clinton’s transition staff after he was elected in 1992, after which as counsel for the previous president’s workplace of presidential personnel.

Flournoy is listed as basic counsel for cigarette maker Phillip Morris in a 1995 White House press advisory naming Kennedy Center advisory committee members. Later, she served as touring chief of staff for Sen. Joe Lieberman through the 2000 presidential marketing campaign, when he was Al Gore’s operating mate.

After engaged on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 marketing campaign for president, she grew to become assistant to the president for public coverage on the American Federation of Teachers, an influential union. Flournoy was initially related to Harris by Minyon Moore, who was an assistant to Clinton when he was president. Moore, who did not return a request for remark, was as soon as named as one of the 100 strongest ladies in Washington.

Before she grew to become Harris’ chief of staff, Flournoy led the staff working for former President Bill Clinton beginning in 2013. At that publish, Flournoy oversaw a staff of roughly 10 individuals who labored instantly with Clinton, and had common engagement with the Clinton Foundation, in accordance to folks with direct data of the matter.

While Flournoy was chief of staff, Clinton held an notorious tarmac meeting with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch whereas his spouse ran for president within the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton’s use of a non-public e-mail server was being investigated on the time by the FBI, which is a component of the Justice Department.

Flournoy’s fashion working for Harris is acquainted to individuals who knew her whereas she labored for Clinton. She took over managing access to Clinton after the departure of his longtime right-hand man, Doug Band. Band, who co-founded company consulting agency Teneo, is thought for serving to create Clinton’s post-presidential life, together with helping in launching the muse and the Clinton Global Initiative.

According to a report by Vanity Fair, Clinton and Band interacted with some controversial celebrities and executives, together with the late Jeffrey Epstein, who later died by suicide in jail after being arrested for little one intercourse trafficking.

“If you have a look at Doug’s tenure, it ranges from Epstein to others,” an individual with direct data of Flournoy’s work instructed CNBC.

“If you look from 2013 by a couple of yr a half in the past when Tina was right here, you may’t level to any single one of them being right here [Clinton’s orbit]. I name some of these individuals who have been as soon as round ‘the unsavory people,'” this particular person added.

Clinton praised the hiring of Flournoy in a tweet after Harris made the official announcement. A spokesman for Clinton didn’t return a request for remark.

Band didn’t remark.

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