Last week, in the lead-up to Amy Klobuchar announcing her presidential run, HuffPost and BuzzFeed published stories in which several anonymous former staffers confirmed long-circulating rumors that the Minnesota senator has been unusually “cruel” and “demeaning” to her staff. Both media outlets painted a picture of what BuzzFeed described as “a workplace controlled by fear, anger, and shame” and what HuffPost called “bursts of cruelty that make it difficult to work in her office.”
Neither publication revealed much in terms of specific allegations. HuffPost reported that Klobuchar tasked her staff with running personal errands such as “making her personal appointments, washing dishes at her home or picking up her dry cleaning.” The site also reported that former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid had personally “admonished” Klobuchar in 2015 for how she treated her staff and had asked her to change her ways.
One particularly dramatic rumor about Klobuchar is the story that she once had a staffer shave her legs for her. While no reporters have publicly confirmed this story (Slate has not either), we have confirmed that the alleged incident was the inspiration for a joke in a 2017 episode of the HBO series Veep.
On Monday, Veep showrunner David Mandel tweeted a clip of the scene, nodding to the recent revisiting in the mainstream press of the rumors:
In an interview, Mandel told me the gag was based on something the writers had heard about Klobuchar. (Disclosure: My brother has worked on the show for the past two seasons.)
“It is a well-known rumor that we were told a million times by millions of people,” Mandel said of the leg-shaving story.
When asked for comment, a representative for Klobuchar said the rumor was completely false and added, “This is ridiculous.”
Mandel explained that when he first took over as the program’s showrunner, he took some of the writing staff on a trip to D.C. for research purposes. Mandel says that he met with Klobuchar for lunch at the time and that she was “fantastic.” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays the show’s lead, was also spotted having lunch with Klobuchar in the Senate Dining Room in 2015.)
The leg-shaving tidbit came up after that meeting. “Any time I brought her up [with people in D.C.], someone would tell us that story as a rumor,” Mandel noted.
“I sort of believe it is what it is: which, it is a rumor,” Mandel added. “It was such a good rumor we used it as a line.”
Mandel says the program originally tried to incorporate a shot of Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer having her legs shaved by a staffer, but Mandel says the show’s writers couldn’t come up with a realistic scene. “We were playing with the circumstances of it happening and it makes no fucking sense,” Mandel said. “A team of writers couldn’t think of any reality where you would do that.”
Instead, the show used it as a line of dialogue for senior adviser Amy Brookheimer (played by Anna Chlumsky), who described having had to “dry-shave” Meyer’s legs.
If you have any information on Klobuchar’s treatment of her staff, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.