- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 2, 2021

Symone Sanders, a top adviser and chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, will leave her position at the end of the year, according to media reports Thursday.

Ms. Sanders announced her exit Wednesday in a letter to colleagues obtained by Politico, which first reported her departure.

It is the latest high-profile exit from Ms. Harris’ office amid reports of staff dysfunction and the vice president’s plummeting approval ratings. Ashley Etienne, Ms. Harris’ communication director, also is set to step down in the coming weeks.

Peter Velz, director of press operations for Ms. Harris, and Vince Evans, deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in the vice president’s office, also are reportedly leaving.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday disputed that the departures are the result of a shakeup amid the vice president’s falling poll numbers and a series of disappointing headlines. 

“Working on a presidential campaign … and working in the first year of the WHite House is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s also grueling and exhausting. It’s all that at once,” she told reporters. 

“It’s natural for staffers to move on to a new challenge after a few years,” Ms. Psaki said. “It’s also an opportunity to bring in new faces, new voices and new perspectives.”

Ms. Sanders’ departure is a huge loss, as she was perhaps the vice president’s most public and outspoken defender. She took to the airways to push back against reports of staff exasperation and lack of focus in the vice president’s office, following a scathing report by CNN.

Ms. Harris’ historic turn as vice president has been beset by problems and sagging approval ratings.

In early November, a Suffolk University poll found that 28% of registered voters approved of her performance as vice president, while 51% disapproved.

Ms. Harris had been assigned to address the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border into the U.S., but her efforts have been criticized by Republicans for not producing any visible results.

Earlier this year, she triggered criticism when she scoffed at a question by NBC News anchor Lester Holt about why she had not yet visited the U.S. southern border.

Ms. Sanders, a former political strategist, served as spokesperson for the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent. She later became a senior adviser to President Biden during his 2020 run for the White House.

In her letter announcing her departure, Ms. Sanders said she was “grateful” to the vice president, according to CNN.

“Every day, I arrived [at] the White House complex knowing our work made a tangible difference for Americans. I am immensely grateful and will miss working for her and with all of you,” she said, according to CNN.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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