Two Democratic convention host committee leaders fired amid investigation

Two Democratic convention host committee leaders fired amid investigation
© Getty Images

Two leaders of Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention were ousted late Tuesday night after employees raised concerns over the group’s “work environment.”

The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee announced that Liz Gilbert, who served as the president of the host committee, and Adam Alonso, the group’s chief of staff, were dismissed after staffers expressed concern over the weekend.

“Every employee has a right to feel respected in their workplace. Based on the information we have learned to date, we believe the work environment did not meet the ideals and expectations of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee Board of Directors,” the host committee said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Accordingly, Liz Gilbert and Adam Alonso are no longer employed by the organization, effective immediately.” 

The move came a day after the organization announced it had hired an attorney to investigate the claims about the work environment.

Two unidentified individuals who have worked with the host committee alleged to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the group has a toxic environment characterized by power struggles and mismanagement. They accused Gilbert and Alonso of handing out contracts to New Jersey operatives, failing to attend meetings and focusing on power within the group. 

Both Gilbert and Alonso had previously served as Democratic operatives in New Jersey. 

"It's one of the worst — if not the worst — I have worked on," the first official said of the host committee.

"The spirit of what it could be for the city might be lost," the second official added.

ADVERTISEMENT

The host committee maintained that it was first made aware of the allegations on Saturday and that no concerns of “bullying and intimidation within the work environment” were brought to its attention before last weekend. The group added that it will continue its third party investigation and take further steps to “ensure the Host Committee's office culture reflects respect and dignity for each and every employee.” 

“The work of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee is critically important--but that work cannot be accomplished unless members of the staff can work collaboratively. The Board is committed to an inclusive and supportive environment at the Host Committee, and will work to ensure that all employees live up to these ideals,” the committee said.

Wisconsin political veteran Teresa Vilmain will oversee the day-to-day operations during this transition period.

The shake-up comes less than six months before the Democratic National Convention’s launch in the Wisconsin city. The host committee, the nonpartisan arm of the convention, is tasked with raising $70 million dollars to stage the July event and recruit approximately 15,000 volunteers.