Vice President Kamala Harris’s communications director will leave his post next month after just a year on the job, the latest in a series of high-level departures from her office.
Jamal Simmons, a veteran Democratic aide who previously worked for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign and more recently as a contributor to CBS News and The Hill, joined the veep’s team in January to replace Ashley Etienne, who departed in November of last year to pursue “other opportunities.”
“Working for Vice President Harris has been an honor and a privilege,” Simmons told Politico. “I’m so thankful for the confidence she put in me and I will miss this fantastic team more than anything.”
An email obtained by the Hill from Harris’s chief of staff, Lorraine Voles, said that Simmons’s wife accepted a position in New York and their family will move there “in the near future.”
“Because of his deep respect for the Vice President, he agreed to come on board for a year,” Voles’s email added, according to the Hill.
Simmons was tasked with improving Harris’ image after a series of missteps and markedly high staff turnover marred her first year in office.
A series of reports last year depicted Harris as a difficult boss to work for, with some former aides describing her management style as “soul-destroying” and saying their main job was “propping up a bully.”
A December 2021 Washington Post expose on Harris’s office quoted former vice presidential aide Gil Duran as saying that staffers “pretend they’re retiring for positive reasons.”
Duran also claimed that Harris’s “destructive patterns” were behind the exit of both Etienne and another former top aide, Symone Sanders.
A June 2021 piece in Politico said Harris’ office was “chaotic” with a “tense and at times dour” atmosphere.
“People are thrown under the bus from the very top, there are short fuses and it’s an abusive environment,” the outlet quoted one source, who added that “people feel treated like s–t.”
Despite Simmons’ best efforts, a recent Economist/YouGov poll showed Harris’ approval rating stuck on just 40% among registered voters, while 55% disapproved of the job she was doing as VP.