The host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention suspended its top two officials on Monday over allegations of a toxic work environment and other shady shenanigans.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel intercepted a letter to staff for the 2020 convention that explains committee president Liz Gilbert and Adam Alonso, chief of staff, will be on paid leave amid an investigation into “concerns about the work environment.”
Those concerns involve allegations of “a toxic culture rife with power struggles, backbiting and mismanagement” that have plagued the host committee in recent months. The investigation also follows criticism of Gilbert and Alonso continuing to work for New Jersey Democrats during their full-time gig with the committee, according to the news site.
“It’s one of the worst — if not the worst — I have worked on,” an unidentified party official told the Sentinel.
The New Jersey Democratic Party also severed ties with Alonso, who was collecting $15,000 a month for consulting work while also working in Milwaukee.
Joe Solmonese, chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee, told the Sentinel the claims made by employees “present an unacceptable and upsetting environment.”
“The Democratic Party is firm in our belief that every person deserves to feel safe and respected at their place of work, and we will always take seriously claims of bullying and workplace harassment,” he said.
The shakeup comes about six months before Democrats are expected to descend on Milwaukee to select a candidate to take on President Trump in the 2020 general election. The host committee is tasked with raising $70 million and recruiting 15,000 volunteers for the July convention.
“We are committed to an inclusive, non-discriminatory, and supportive environment at the host committee and we will work to ensure that all employees live up to these ideals,” the board wrote in its letter.
Carmen N. Decot, a partner with Foley & Lardner, is conducting the investigation, the Sentinel reports.
“The Democratic Party is firm in our belief that every person deserves to feel safe and respected at their place of work, and we will always take seriously claims of bullying and workplace harassment,” Solmonese told the news site.
In addition to the toxic culture, Alonso and Gilbert are accused of using their positions on the host committee to steer business to their Democratic friends in New Jersey.
“A New Jersey firm with strong ties to the New Jersey Democratic Party, for instance, developed the website for the host committee and manages its email platform,” the Sentinel reports.
New Jersey Democratic Party Executive Director Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye told the New Jersey Globe the state party severed ties with Alonso on Monday.
Alonso previously worked as the deputy chief of staff for Gov. Phil Murphy before joining the state party as a consultant in 2018.
“The New Jersey Democratic State Committee is no longer affiliated with Mr. Alonso and his firm,” the state party said in a statement emailed by executive director Tolulope Kevin Olasanoye.
The suspensions in Milwaukee follow just days after Julie Roginsky, another former Murphy aide, complained the governor’s 2017 campaign was rife with misogyny and created “toxic work environment,” NJ.com reports.