Top female Democrats and Kamala Harris allies held a “crisis dinner” last month to strategize on the recent onslaught of negative press the VP and her office has received, a new report says.
The purpose of the dinner was to urgently create a plan to defend the Vice President and her chief of staff Tina Flournoy amid claims of a toxic office, Axios reports.
It was also to discuss how to boost Harris’ national media footing and leverage her experience as a prosecutor, California attorney general and senator to hit back at criticism.
The dinner was organized by Kiki McLean — a Democratic communications strategist and former advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Other guests included former Obama White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri, Harris confidant Minyon Moore, Biden adviser Stephanie Cutter and Hillary Clinton campaign spokeswomen Karen Finney and Adrienne Elrod.
No one from Harris’ office attended the dinner, according to the report.
The VP has not commented on reports of the crisis dinner.
“The point of it was how can this group be supportive from the outside,” an Axios source said.
“It was less about how do you sort out the infrastructure [of Harris’ operation], and it was more how can this group contribute to make sure that not only is her team making the most of this moment — as the first woman of color in the White House — but how can we help from the outside?”
A separate source said the group of women discussed what they claimed was “sexist overtones” in the media coverage of the VP.
“Many of us lived through the Clinton campaign and want to help curb some of the gendered dynamics in press coverage that impacted (Hillary Clinton),” the source told the outlet.
“It was like: ‘We’ve seen this before.’ It’s subtle. But when things aren’t going well for a male politician, we ask very different questions, and they’re not held to account the way a woman leader is.”
The dinner came as Harris faces mounting criticism for her response to the illegal immigrant crisis, as well as claims she fostered a toxic and dysfunctional working environment.
A bombshell Politico report published in June described Harris’ office as “chaotic” with a “tense and at times dour” atmosphere and a place where “people feel treated like s–t.”
That report, which cited nearly two dozen “current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials and associates of Harris”, blamed the VP and her chief of staff for the dysfunction.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” a source quoted in the report said. “It’s not a healthy environment and people often feel mistreated.”