DNC Host Committee leadership 'bullied and intimidated' female staff, letter claims

NOW: DNC Host Committee leadership ’bullied and intimidated’ female staff, letter claims

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- One day after DNC Milwaukee Host Committee President Liz Gilbert and Chief of Staff Adam Alonso's suspensions were announced, CBS 58 obtained a letter from female DNC staff filing a complaint against them.

The letter, written by unnamed "senior women from the host committee," was addressed to the Host Committee Board of Directors. It reads, in part:

“Adam Alonso has consistently bullied and intimidated staff members, but of note is that this is primarily directed at the women on staff. Resulting in a culture that coddles male senior advisers and consultants who have no clear role or clear lines of management. His mismanagement of the Host Committee, enabled by Liz Gilbert, has created a toxic and unstable working environment that we will not allow to continue.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the board was made aware of the letter Saturday.

“My position is that regardless of where people work, whether it be city hall, a corporation, or a national convention, that there is a safe and healthy work environment,” Barrett said.

The board of directors has enlisted a third party to investigate Gilbert and Alonso. Sources tell CBS 58 they intend to move forward quickly with that investigation.

“I’m very pleased that the board has acted as swiftly as it has," Barrett said. "They are investigating it as we speak. And I’m sure they will get it right.”

The Milwaukee Host Committee is tasked with raising about $70 million and acquiring 15,000 volunteers in the next five months before the convention. It operates separately from the Democratic National Convention Committee, which is tasked with selecting the Democratic nominee for president. Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese said in a statement: 

“The claims made by employees of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee present an unacceptable and upsetting environment. The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee board of directors is moving forward with a plan to restore an office culture that aligns with the values and expectations of our party.”

Barrett said it is ultimately up to the Host Committee Board of Directors to decide if Gilbert and Alonso will keep their jobs.

The investigation came as a surprise to many of Milwaukee’s Common Council members.

“It’s shocking when you hear something like this, but I have to believe with something this important they’re going to find the right people to make it work,” Alderman Mark Borkowski said.

“Let’s get competent people in here and maybe instead of bringing people in from New Jersey, Washington, and New York they can look to local folks,” Alderman Bob Bauman said. 

Both Alderman Borkowski and Alderman Bauman said they had no idea that two of the Host Committee’s leaders were being sidelined until the news broke Monday.

However, Alderman Bauman says most Common Council members have not had much interaction with the Host Committee. He said his requests to meet with the committee president have been ignored.

Common Counsel President Ashanti Hamilton is on the advisory committee. He said he had heard grumblings about things moving quickly on the committee and people being demanding, but he is optimistic they will be able to get back on track quickly.

“It’s good to see that the Host Committee is moving quickly to try to address the concerns and hopefully we’ll get the information from the investigation back and they can take swift action and get back to work,” President Hamilton said.

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