At least three people have withdrawn from consideration to lead Sen. Amy Klobuchar's nascent 2020 presidential campaign – and in part because of the Minnesota Democrat's history of mistreating her staff, HuffPost has learned.
Klobuchar, who plans to make and announce a potential presidential bid on Sunday in Minneapolis, has spent the past several months positioning herself to run for president. She's beloved in her state as a smart, funny and personable lawmaker and has gained national attention for her lines of questioning at high-profile hearings.
But some form Klobuchar staffers, all of whom spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity, describe Klobuchar as habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty that make it difficult to work in her office for long.
It is common for staff to wake up to multiple emails from Klobuchar characterizing one's work as "the worst" briefing or press release she'd seen in her decades of public service, according to two forms aides and emails seen at HuffPost.
Although some staffers grew into her constant put-downs ("It always was the worst," "one said sarcastically," "It was the worst one two weeks ago"), others found it grinding and demoralizing. Adding to the humiliation, Klobuchar often cc'd large groups of staffers who were working on the topic at hand, giving the emails the effect of a public flogging.
"Senator Klobuchar loves her staff ̵
Some people who worked for Klobuchar say they valued the experience: Klobuchar has an unrivaled command of details, puts in long, enthusiastic hours, and simply demands that here office measures those same high standards, several forms staffers maintained. Those employees described working for her as a challenge, but an exhilarating one that caused them to grow and perform their best work. They question whether form co-workers who thought she was abusive were falling for sexist stereotypes about female leaders with high standards.
Reached for comment, Klobuchar's office referred to HuffPost to multiple ex-staffers who shared glowing statements about working for here.
"I've heard people say it's tough to work for and I sometimes cringe when I hear it because I rarely hears that said about male bosses in Congress is the fact that half of Congress is tough to work for, ”said Tristan Brown, a former legislative aide who called Klobuchar“ probably the most brilliant, hardworking person I've had the privilege to work for. ”
Erik Garcia Luna, who worked in Klobuchar's Minneapolis office from 2009 to 2014, remembers her as a child. He said that she called her staffers during the 2013 government shutdown to check in with them and make sure they and their families were taken care of.
He said he had no idea why there were such divergent views from people who had worked for the senator: "I don't know what to make of them, to be frank."
Do you have more information on what it's like to work for Sen. Klobuchar – or other members of Congress? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is indisputable, however, is that Klobuchar's office consistently has one of the highest rates of staff turnover in the Senate. From 2001 to 2016, she ranked no. 1 in the Senate for staff turnover as measured by LegiStorm, a widely used database of congressional staff salaries. She's now third, behind Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Louisiana Republican John Kennedy.
And this is not the first time Klobuchar had issues building a team because of being mistreatment of staff
A former employee in her Senate office recalled her struggling to find an outside candidate to replace an outgoing chief of staff. A staffer in another Hill office recounted interest in a job opening with Klobuchar when a current staffer, the one conducting the interview, conveyed that avoiding Klobuchar's remorse was a significant part of the job.
The senator has acknowledged she has "high expectations," but many people who have worked with Klobuchar or interacted with her and her staff say her treatment of staff goes beyond the normal expectations of excelling in a job.
Three former staffers said Klobuchar has tasked them with their co-workers with performing personal errands, such as making her personal appointments, washing dishes at her home or picking up her dry cleaning.
Senate staff are generally However, the practice is also common on Capitol Hill. A form staffer who was never aware of Klobuchar tasking with staffer with personal chores said many lawmakers make such requests. "The honest truth to this is a lot of people [in Congress] who really take advantage of office staff," the former staffer said.
of staff have been subject to ethics investigations.
When you have people who do not want to work you can be as effective.
Former staffer of Sen. Amy Klobuchar
The reality of working for Klobuchar is at odds with the Midwestern-nice image she has cultivated in public: an unflappable workhorse and "the senator next door," which was the title of her 2015 memoir.  One morning several years ago, when most of the office staff was running late – the ex-staffer couldn't remember the reason – Klobuchar wrote out tardy slips and placed them on each missing aide's desk. The staffer recalls incredibly bursts of laughter as her co-workers arrived at one by one to find the notes, but Klobuchar was deadly serious. "She was constantly lighting new fires," a form staffer said, sometimes at expense of focusing on legislative work.
"When you have people who don't want to work for you, you can't be as effective, ”the staffer added.
Kevin Robillard contributed reporting.