Politics are a nasty, sticky business, full of venom and betrayal and abject chaos. We’ve known this for centuries, from literal duels to prime-time diatribes and earworm nicknames.
But behind the politics, outside of the view of the public and the mass media, politicians need to have an underlying decency – particularly toward those with whom they are looking to pool resources and enthusiasm.
Like their staff.
It seems as though one of 2024’s Democratic presidential candidates missed that memo.
The best-selling author Marianne Williamson has built a career preaching love and forgiveness. It is the cornerstone of her second Democratic campaign for president which she launched on March 4.
But those who have worked with Williamson as she has moved into the political realm say her public persona is at odds with her private behavior.
Interviews with 12 people who worked for Williamson during her 2020 presidential campaign paint a picture of a boss who can be verbally and emotionally abusive.
Just how worrisome is Williamson’s behavior?
Those interviewed say the best-selling author and spiritual adviser subjected her employees to unpredictable, explosive episodes of anger. They said Williamson could be cruel and demeaning to her staff and that her behavior went far beyond the typical stress of a grueling presidential cycle.
“It would be foaming, spitting, uncontrollable rage,” said a former staffer, who, like most people that spoke with POLITICO, was granted anonymity because of their concern about being sued for breaking non-disclosure agreements. “It was traumatic. And the experience, in the end, was terrifying.”
And it gets worse…
Williamson would throw her phone at staffers, according to three of those former staffers. Her outbursts could be so loud that two former aides recounted at least four occasions when hotel staff knocked on her door to check on the situation. In one instance, Williamson got so angry about the logistics of a campaign trip to South Carolina that she felt was poorly planned that she pounded a car door until her hand started to swell, according to four former staffers. Ultimately, she had to go to an urgent care facility, they said. All 12 former staffers interviewed recalled instances where Williamson would scream at people until they started to cry.
Just months ago, reports of similar bullying erupted from the East Wing of the White House when Vice President Kamala Harris was accused of belittling and demeaning her staff, leading some to wonder if there is a culture problem on the left side of the aisle.