EXCLUSIVE: Seven Ex-Marianne Williamson Staffers Say Stop Supporting Her
Read the Former Staffers' Letter Alleging Abuse, Mismanagement, and Concerns Over Campaign Direction
Marianne Williamson may mean well, but a collective of former staff from her 2024 presidential campaign says they have a desperate responsibility to tell you to stop supporting the spiritual author's run for the nation's top spot. In an exclusive letter given to Courage News, seven former staff members allege deception, sabotage, gaslighting, emotional abuse, erratic behavior, conditions leading to extreme staff turnover, and general dysfunction beyond what they have ever experienced in political campaigns or professional work.
(For your convenience, here is an audio version of this deeply reported article). Otherwise, read on.
I have spoken to over a dozen former staff members and volunteers who corroborate these statements, beyond even the signatories, and have reviewed hard evidence of the allegations.
The letter, whose signatories have been granted anonymity due to their fear of legal backlash from strict Williamson NDAs and other threats of legal action, follows:
To our fellow Americans,
We are a collective of former staff (both resigned and terminated) of the 2024 Marianne Williamson for President campaign. We are all longtime dedicated supporters of the progressive movement. Our combined professional experience includes work on over a hundred political campaigns, as well as ballot initiatives and activist work. Each of us joined this campaign in good faith and with the best of intentions, many setting aside or leaving other valuable work, each making a personal investment towards seeing the first progressive president in our lifetime and the first woman president in the history of the United States. We were all genuinely enthusiastic about Williamson's campaign when we started, and we believed it had the potential to change the direction of the country for the better.
Today, we come forward with heavy hearts because we were deceived, intentionally or unintentionally, and we know others are still being deceived by the continuance of Marianne Williamson's presidential campaign. Our goal in making this statement is to be transparent and bring awareness to the fact that the campaign has been repeatedly sabotaged by the candidate herself.
As a candidate, Williamson has consistently prevented staff from completing the work necessary to run a campaign or win an election, disregarding their experience and expertise. Despite having a staff full of competent professionals, she continually micromanages the campaign, disallowing any growth or forward momentum for the campaign as a whole. Williamson assigns tasks to staff that directly conflict with the advice of the experts she hired. When staff complete the work as directed, their work is frequently picked apart and criticized by Williamson, to the point that she backtracks on her own decisions and gaslights staff into believing the mixup was their own doing. Her interactions with staff go beyond that of a "tough boss," as she has claimed in her defense. Her behavior is frequently intimidating, demeaning, and demoralizing. All of us have worked demanding jobs with tough bosses. This was not the same. Working for her did not feel "tough." It felt emotionally abusive and hopeless. There is a difference between working for a demanding boss and feeling like you're walking on eggshells in every meeting.
Additionally, Williamson is very impressionable and susceptible to flattery. She regularly adopts the opinions of the friend or fan she last spoke with and gives direction to staff based on their comments. At times when this directly contradicts the advice of the experts on her staff, she reacts by saying, "I am the candidate" or "I have run for office, and you haven't," disregarding that some on staff have also run for office. As such, we believe that her unpredictable nature and erratic behavior, which contribute to the constant turnover of campaign staff, is not conducive to leading a presidential administration or a nation. We were wrong to believe she is the leader our country needs at this critical time, even if the campaign were in a position to win.
However, the campaign is not in a position to win. First, there is no plan for obtaining ballot access or securing delegates. Second, in addition to the documented high turnover in the role of campaign manager, Williamson fails to fill other key roles such as political director, data director, comms director, etc. This leaves staff to step in and fill the gaps, which we have proudly done as a team. Third, efforts to resolve these issues were met with pushback, attacks, and in some cases, termination. For example, when staff tried to raise the alarm regarding ballot access and offer a solution, those who spoke up were accused of ambushing Williamson and subsequently fired. In the days that followed, every remaining staffer was directed to focus exclusively on events and social media by both Williamson and new campaign manager Carlos Cardona. These are just a few examples of the campaign's general dysfunction.
Based on our observations and our interactions with her, Marianne Williamson has demonstrated no intention of becoming president, no strategy to win this election, and no ability to effectively lead this country or follow through on her progressive platform.
For all of the reasons shared above, and more, we are forced to conclude that this campaign is an experiment in deception and that we, as staff, played a role in that. We cannot, in good conscience, allow it to continue without it being challenged publicly.
We also want to express our support for all of the exceptional people still working with the campaign as staff or volunteers. It is not our intention to make their jobs harder than they already are. These are incredibly talented individuals who have our ongoing and unwavering respect, gratitude, and support. Early in the campaign, there was an effort to unionize and we hope for their health and safety that the remaining staff are able to pursue that. Finally, we hope this experience does not dissuade our younger colleagues from continuing to fight for their progressive values and the future they deserve.
We have deeply considered the ramifications and retaliation we may be subjected to for speaking out. We are all operating with integrity, knowing that our careers and reputations are on the line, to ensure that people are not further deceived by a mismanaged presidential campaign with no path to victory. We joined this campaign because we believed in Williamson's potential to deliver the better future promised by her progressive platform. However, no amount of time, money, or energy will contribute to this campaign's success. We encourage donors, especially those with recurring donations, to stop and ask yourselves if your hard-earned money would be better spent elsewhere. To remaining volunteers, we urge you to find credible activist and political work on which to focus your energy and resources.
Thank you, sincerely.
“The Marianne Campaign is a F*cking Shit Show”
Marianne Williamson, famous since the 1990s from appearances on Oprah and through her books based on “A Course in Miracles”–a 1976 work believed by its originator, Helen Schucman, to be a correction to the Bible dictated by Jesus himself–has a decades-long history of controversy with allegations of narcissistic behavior and abuse toward staff.
The New Age author, non-profit founder, preacher, and thrice-ran politician proclaims she has aimed to help build an "enlightened society," something her most devoted followers have been sure she is doing, having given meals and care to men dying from AIDS in the '90s when others wouldn’t and maintaining a pay only if you can, open-door policy for her spiritual lectures. Many today have been turned on by her progressive Bernie Sanders-style political policies, feeling frustration at a Democratic party they think isn't doing enough for them.
But, the glamour is falling off, and some think it should have long ago. A 1991 Vanity Fair article quoted internal sources saying that "Marianne wants it to all be Marianne's...she is comfortable only when she controls everything" and that she wants to be powerful, recognized, and fawned over.
A frustration for some, including in 2023, has been her insistence on injecting her brand of spirituality into everything she does, including praying with staff for things like a boosted social media presence on Twitter (X) and TikTok.
Today’s complaints go well beyond her spirituality and being difficult to work with: "The Marianne campaign is a fucking shit show," one former insider puts it.
Attempts to keep the current campaign on track are allegedly met with responses from Williamson like the following:
"I've been a public figure for 40 years. I don't need people to tell me how to be a public figure."
“Her Campaign is Not a Campaign”
Williamson's 2024 campaign has faced added controversy after its former National Field Director, Jeremy Ellwood, took to Facebook to accuse the operation of being a glorified book tour, saying, “Her campaign is not a campaign. It is a book tour…I was fired…along with ANYONE who mentioned ballot access and field plan. Her focus is ONLY on events and social media…She literally called ballot access ‘mythical stuff’…Do not support her.”
This is not the first time someone closely working with Williamson has made a similar claim–a 1992 Entertainment Weekly article cited an insider accusing Williamson of using her AIDS organizations to "sell her book and increase her own fame."
Beyond Ellwood’s post, multiple 2024 campaign insiders Courage News spoke with agree that Marianne Williamson feels a need to raise her profile and be in the spotlight again, with one saying, "The grift is the audience," now that that the days of lauded Oprah appearances are long-gone and she self-reports that her financial success has waned.
"She's just using this to be relevant, to gain more followers who are going to purchase more of her books, her audio tapes, her livestreams, and her in-person lectures," says another source. "Politics is a tool for her to speak to people who aren't just spiritual or religious," asserts another former staffer.
Former staffers also say they are concerned by the crossover between the campaign and Williamson's business affairs, responsible for her tours, lectures, and book sales. Multiple staffers from Marianne Williamson’s book tour and business end are in top campaign roles. "There are people [working on Williamson's campaign] that are invested in both sides, not wanting to piss her off," says a former 2024 campaign staffer.
Williamson, a prolific author, had planned to release her latest book, "The Mystic Jesus: The Mind of Love," in September 2023, but following public pressure, she released an announcement on July 21 that she was postponing the book for a second time, stating, "it might confuse the market." The book, now slated for Spring 2024, examines the role of Jesus in teaching love and transcending fear, something that made former campaign staffers focused on progressive policy uncomfortable.
Multiple former staffers report to Courage News that there has been a crossover of personal book promotion and theologizing to staff, with Williamson directing 2024 campaign staffers who'd like copies of her spiritual books to contact her assistant to have them purchased and shipped to them, allegedly using campaign funds.
"Most voters haven't read your book and won't read your books, and I think that's an important thing to consider if you're literally running for president," one former staffer says in frustration.
Another emphasized, "You're holding events where like 30 people show up. That is not a plan. That is not a field plan!"
Frustrating multiple sources was a lack of training and resources put toward things they saw as necessary for a win. "[The campaign] did not have time to give us field training, but they did have time…to train us how to make TikToks," one former campaign volunteer said. Multiple former staffers believe they were fired or pushed out for trying to redirect focus to things like volunteer field events, canvassing, phone banking, and ballot access.
“She Does Not Have Plans”
Williamson herself has publicly rejected the need for plans in campaigning and presidency. In 2020’s presidential primaries, Williamson frowned upon candidates for "having all these plans.”
Recently, Williamson appeared on Hasan Piker’s show, and when he asked about her plans to mobilize younger voters, she replied, “Well, I have not made an effort to mobilize young voters…I don’t have any strategy like that.”
Former staffers have also been concerned about Williamson’s lack of in-depth knowledge about her own policies, which she did not personally write the finer points of. "She's never…wanted to have a spontaneous conversation about healthcare or climate change," says a former team member. Another confirms, "She does not have plans."
Some inside sources have additionally expressed unease over Williamson's inconsistent support for the LGBTQ community. Former staffers report they wanted to participate more fully during Pride Month, but it was not made a priority. Multiple told Courage News they were alarmed when the candidate said they were no longer allowed to ask for pronouns during meetings because it "makes older people uncomfortable."
At Least 30 Marianne 2024 Staffers Are Gone
Former Marianne Williamson campaign staff are also dismayed at the extreme turnover in their ranks, both from firings and resignations. As of the last FEC report, Williamson’s wayward 2024 campaign has lost at least 30 staffers. This has reportedly led to internal confusion due to having multiple campaign managers and contrasting directives, including by Williamson.
Williamson once referred to herself on an internal staff call reviewed by Courage News as the "interim campaign manager" and didn't feel the need to look outside the campaign for a new manager at the time, after having lost multiple.
2024’s turbulence mirrors Williamson's past leadership of organizations, including her LA-Based AIDS charity in the '90s, which experienced high turnover and multiple fired executive directors. Her tenure as leader of Renaissance Unity Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship in Michigan faced similar controversy, with an attorney local to the church saying at the time, "The church is in deficit, and she's laid off three-quarters of the staff."
Multiple former 2024 campaign staffers who've previously worked on campaigns, as well as other professional work, say they have never seen anything like this, with some calling Williamson's behavior Trump-like. One noted, "Marianne had a way of making us feel worthless." According to several former staffers, Williamson has a long-standing pattern of disregarding professional expertise, taking over the roles of professionals herself, forgetting that she assigned tasks, and then chastising staff for doing those tasks, which evidence reviewed by Courage News corroborates.
In a request for comment, the Marianne 2024 press office sent Courage News a letter from Digital Communications advisor CK Sanders addressed to volunteers, calling it an "exclusive" for this outlet. Sanders defended Williamson's leadership and slammed the professional capabilities of former staffers, attributing the high turnover to erring in hiring.
Former staffers dispute this characterization, with one stating they felt like they were "building the car while we were driving it." Several noted the campaign was an amateur operation. "This is not how presidential campaigns are run," one said.
"Marianne is a Traumatic Person to Work For"
"If this shit gets out in public, people aren't going to want to vote for her because she's a terrible fucking person," says a source familiar with Williamson's conduct.
According to several former staffers, Williamson's campaign is marked by a 'do not dissent' atmosphere and erratic and volatile conduct. "If you told her something she didn't like, your days were numbered,” one revealed. Sources suggest Williamson has a pattern of undermining, belittling, and chewing out staff while micromanaging all campaign elements.
Ex-employees say, and evidence reviewed by this outlet corroborates, it was not uncommon for staff to be texted and called at all hours of the day or night, often to deal with things like a single unfavorable tweet from a low-followed account on Twitter, and that they were working seven days a week with no real breaks.
The hard work appears not to be enough. "Once she decides she doesn't like you, you're out," said a former staffer. Multiple sources confirm that Williamson responds particularly well to fans and volunteers who shower her with praise, sometimes giving them her personal phone number or email address and trying to find roles for them on the campaign. This positive feeling of welcome is confirmed by multiple current Williamson campaign volunteers, who tell this outlet they do not believe the negative reporting about the candidate.
This starkly contrasts with how staff are treated, former staff say, leaving them feeling like they are walking on eggshells.
"She wants to be surrounded by fans, not staffers," says a source.
Eyewitnesses and those personally impacted reveal her screaming at staff and creating a hostile environment.
Work days would go from "'let's have good energy' to her just fucking chewing people out," says a source who confirms that the candidate's public image is vastly different from her private persona.
These reports align with those made by 2020 campaign staffers, two-term New Hampshire Representative Paul Hodes and former Iowa State Director Roger Becker, the latter of which called out the "belittling, abusive, dehumanizing, and unacceptable" way she treated staff.
"[Marianne] is literally a traumatic person to work for," says one former staffer.
High work demands have led to physical and mental health impacts on 2024 staff, which every former staffer Courage News spoke with confirmed, sometimes through tears. Some report that the abuse got to the point where their families became concerned, hearing her yell at them on the phone. "As hard as you're working, you need to work ten times harder," was the ethos.
Micromanagement gets in the way of Williamson's stated goals, something that's been said of her in news reports for decades. A former 2024 staffer reveals, "she micromanages to a detrimental level while not understanding the necessities of a campaign," and with "all the micromanaging, you're not getting anywhere...you're just burning people to the ground." Another follows: "To be president, you have to allow people to work within their expertise, and she refuses to let people do that."
Matthew Remski, a host of the Conspirituality podcast and who is intimately familiar with Williamson's ideology, “A Course in Miracles,” is not surprised by this, believing you cannot separate the candidate from what she has preached for decades, saying that based on the course's methods, "It's not surprising that there's a very low tolerance for conflict or disagreement [in the real world]."
Keeping Williamson happy at all costs was a common refrain among sources Courage News spoke to, with one saying, "Marianne's perception of if we're doing our jobs depends on how much she feels like she's running for president," says one former staffer, saying she cares most about positive news, affirmations, and how she appears on social media.
Multiple sources and internal staff and volunteer calls reviewed by Courage News show that Williamson leans on the line that misogyny is all to blame when those who've worked with her call out how they've been treated. Former staffers strongly disagree with this characterization, highlighting that her behavior transcends gender issues, is abusive, and abuses the term itself.
Fear Inside the Campaign: “Literally Fucking Scared of Marianne”
Some by Williamson's side are allegedly too scared to stop working for her due to potential personal fallout and for economic reasons, including those involved in both the political and business side of her operations, according to several sources. Multiple former staffers and those familiar brought this up unprompted, with one noting, "Marianne is more abusive to [someone who works for her] than anyone else." This person has not responded to a request for comment.
One former staffer emphasizes, "[Several of us are] concerned about her treatment of [name redacted]…[from what we’ve seen it’s like this person is] literally fucking scared of Marianne."
A source believes some who stick by Williamson "bow down to her as though she is some religious figure and take her abuse...because they are literally worshiping her." Others, they think, feel stuck and worried about what will happen to them if they leave or go against her.
Marianne’s Invite-Only Social Media Attack Squad: “Please Keep This Between Us”
"She thought she was going to win the campaign by being a TikTok star," says a former staffer. A scan of social media will show many positive things people have to say about Marianne Williamson, which may partially be because the campaign has a secret official social media attack squad for volunteers.
Courage News has acquired a document revealing an invite-only "Marianne 2024 Debunkers Team," which evidence shows Williamson requested to have, calling it an "army." The document's stated mission is to counteract lies and negativity about Williamson online. Also noted in the document is to "please keep this between us." Current campaign manager Carlos Cardona asked volunteers on a July 11 call to protect the "queen" on social media.
The "debunking" team scours social media platforms for anything negative about Marianne Williamson so they can respond en masse. "We were told early on that our focus would be social media," one former volunteer admits. Another adds, "She really only cares about her social media presence and her social image."
Another former volunteer attests, "Volunteers were doing her dirty work [on social media]." Multiple sources report that there are incentives to defend the candidate online, including the chance to win a 15-minute call with her directly if you protect her well enough, something one former volunteer found to be particularly narcissistic.
This, combined with the candidate’s forced prayers with staffers for a boosted social media presence, raised alarm bells for several sources.
Former Marianne 2024 Campaign Manager Peter Daou: “Staff Concerns Should Always Be Taken With the Utmost Seriousness”
While sources believe Williamson means well "in her head," the candidate also faces criticism for not providing healthcare for her campaign team and not implementing unionization. Multiple sources confirm former Marianne 2024 campaign manager Peter Daou tried to rectify these issues before leaving the campaign due to family health concerns, which the campaign initially mischaracterized as them “going in a more progressive direction.”
Daou, who has worked as a top advisor on multiple political campaigns, tells me, “I've made a commitment in the 2024 election to work on expanding options for voters beyond the failing two-party system. My work with Marianne was part of that mission. In the month I was campaign manager, I restructured her team, cut costs, and positioned the campaign for long-term viability. I respect the team members I worked with who put their hearts into the campaign. And I believe staff concerns should always be taken with the utmost seriousness. I hope a progressive platform like Marianne's remains available to voters.”
Continuing the Abuse: Smearing Staff When They Leave
"Since leaving, I have realized I should also have been afraid of how the campaign would talk about me to the media,” one former staffer said.
Williamson has claimed that former staffers who complain about how her campaign is being run "don't know what they're talking about." She has insinuated that those departing with anything negative to say had sinister intentions, were in step with the DNC, or were inept, a similar tactic she used against staff who spoke out from her 2020 campaign.
"[Allegations of former staff and volunteers] being DNC plants…is not just personally hurtful, it's professionally harmful," a former staffer says.
Former campaign volunteers Courage News spoke with have expressed distrust and unease over how Williamson has handled staff departures. "The people who are close to her within the campaign tell volunteers and supporters these people are bad. These people are evil." Former volunteers also report they have been ostracized from online progressive groups by current volunteers after no longer supporting Williamson. "The campaign really just wants to blacklist former volunteers, supporters, and staff who speak out," one alleges.
Another source asserts urgently in relation to the smears, "[Marianne is] siphoning off funds, time, and energy from people who would describe themselves as left-wing, with no real intention of becoming President of the United States."
Marianne Williamson’s Legal Threats and Fear of the Press
Marianne Williamson has long had an up-and-down relationship with the press. A 1992 People Magazine story reported demands that staff not speak to reporters, with Williamson exploding,
"You're fucking with my livelihood. I'm famous–I don't need this, damn it!" ~ Marianne Williamson
In a June 2023 staff call for her 2024 campaign reviewed by Courage News, Williamson warned the team against press leaks, saying, "It would certainly be my hope that none of you were talking to the press…hopefully you're not leaking." Williamson reportedly does not like staff calls being recorded.
The candidate recently publicly posted a contradictory message on Twitter (X), implying she welcomes the press talking to staff, saying, "My staff is fine. Wonderful. Fun to work with. Ask reporters to talk to THEM sometime." This has proven difficult given the Williamson NDAs and legal threats leaving some former and current staff tight lipped.
Cult-Like and Narcissistic Behavior: “It Feels Like a Literal Cult”
Several sources allege cult-like and narcissistic behavior from the once-acclaimed New Age spiritual leader. One former volunteer put it bluntly, "It feels like a literal cult." Multiple former staff sources are concerned that political campaign events are sometimes held in churches and that they have been required to pray based on Williamson's ideology. Multiple confirm that you're out if you dare say a word against the leader.
Cult expert and author of “Cults Inside Out,” Rick Alan Ross, notes there are levels to cult-like behavior but has concerns that charismatic personalities like Williamson's create systems where questioning the leader's authority results in punishment and ostracization. He further emphasizes that the God-like image constructed by the leader can exploit people to act against their own self-interest and leaves the leader free from accountability. "The leader hurts people, and it costs them if they leave," Ross says. He noted several red flags about Williamson from our conversation.
"I think the key to her behavior really can't be separated from the ideology of the book she's dedicated her life to teaching, [a Course in Miracles]," says Matthew Remski of the Conspirituality podcast, who himself was involved in what he considers to have been a cult based on the book's teachings. He, too, saw cause for concern, saying, among other things,
"There's just a pervasive superiority complex that dresses itself up in love, compassion, and forgiveness… it's a profoundly narcissistic spirituality."
A narcissistic spirituality that seems to have found a home on the Williamson campaign.
Former Staffers Don’t Want You to Vote for Marianne Williamson
"This is so weird for me because I loved and adored this woman,"
Said one source who believes Williamson should not become president. Another said, "I don't want this fucking shit show of a campaign to damage the progressive movement."
"She needs to stop. Stop getting paid. People need to stop wasting money on her," expresses another former staffer. "Her campaign is a fraud. She's defrauding everyone who donates to her," yet another adds.
In multiple now-deleted tweets, Williamson herself has doubted her suitability for public office, saying, “I wouldn't be a good mayor, or a good governor either for that matter. Those are managerial positions and it's not my forté.”
“I wouldn't be a good mayor.” ~ Marianne Williamson
A former staffer asserts, "She does care about people as a concept. But she would not have any idea of [how to do the job of president].”
Another points to her explosive and unpredictable temper as a reason not to vote for the candidate. "I do not trust Marianne has the ability to lead a nation. I do not want her with the nuclear codes."
They added, "I don't want to tell anybody to read your books. I want to erase every moment I ever talked about you online."
As for Williamson, she has said the best piece of advice she's ever received is to "get over yourself. Yeah. It's not about you."
Marianne Williamson's campaign has not responded to a request for additional comment.
Here are the questions she was sent:
Multiple corporate outlets greenlit this piece and then killed it, with one citing the reason as being because I would not allow screenshots and identifying stories to be published, though I have that in abundance. I would not have written this piece if I did not. I took this stand to protect sources who are living in fear of legal threat from Marianne Williamson and her campaign. Multiple people spoke to me through tears due to what they’ve been through, and I will never not protect my sources and those who are bravely speaking out.
My reporting process included speaking to over a dozen people for many, many hours - former staffers from multiple years of campaigns, former volunteers, current volunteers, people still affiliated. It also included gathering a lot of corroborative evidence in the form of audio, screenshots, and more. I also combed extensively through Williamson’s history, and the reporting through decades reveals consistent issues and allegations.
I have previously interviewed Williamson about Medicare for All in Washington D.C. My own reporting history and political leanings are fully findable online. I note this because I am aware this reporting will make people who support Williamson angry, but my intentions remain to report For The People, always.
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