First of all, I would like to say that this is the last statement I am going to make on this matter, as well as the absolute last time I will be working in politics. I have worked in politics for 28 years, and have not found it rewarding whatsoever. I have only worked in it because it is “what I know”. Luckily for me, my experience with the Idaho Democratic Party confirmed why I have had this dislike for politics. Therefore, after this article, I will not write or discuss politics, nor will I be responding to any media or individual requests for reactions or clarification regarding this or any other political issue.
Still, I think I need to tell my side of the story.
On August 13th, 2019, the Executive Committee of the Idaho Democratic Party had a meeting regarding my hiring. This was the second step of a two-step process, with the Personnel Committee being the first step (with my hire already being approved by them). The committee approved my hire, and I found out from Van Beechler the following day via email.
In mid-August, I received a phone call where I was informed that Chelsea Goana-Lincoln, one of the committee members, “strongly opposed” (direct quote) and voted against my hiring because I was, (again, direct quote), a “white male”. At this time I had not been officially hired by the party, which is the reason I mentioned on Twitter that the situation surrounding my hiring was not privy information (thus not covered by my confidentiality agreement, though I was threatened with legal action by the IDP within minutes of making that tweet).
On my first day in the office (September 4th, 2019), I had a meeting with Van Beechler, as well as with Jesse Maldonado and Elle Casner. During that meeting, Beechler stated that Chelsea Goana-Lincoln opposed and voted against my hiring as Executive Director because I was “not a person of color” (direct quote from Beechler) and that Goana-Lincoln believes that the party needs to “put their money where their mouth is” (direct quote from Beechler) when it comes to diversity. The other two attendees nodded in agreement as to the statement by Beechler about Goana-Lincoln.
The next evening (September 5th, 2019), we had a fundraiser for IDP trustees (basically people who donate $86 a month to the party, or $1000 a year). At that meeting, I was scheduled to speak, but when Beechler introduced me, she said I would not be speaking. She told me that she would come to the office the next day.
The next day (September 6th, 2019), which was coincidentally my birthday, Beechler came to the office at 3:15 PM and asked me how I thought things were going. I told her they were going well. However, she disagreed. She said that a number of trustees did not like me, and that one trustee “who is highly connected with the DNC” (direct quote from Beechler) found something that I had written previously that would “cause problems” (direct quote from Beechler). Beechler did not tell me what the writing was or the trustee who presented her the information. I asked her how she wanted to handle this, but she did not give me a direct answer. When I asked her if she was firing me, she said “yes”, saying that “we need to end your time here before things get out of hand” (direct quotes from Beechler). I left Idaho immediately after receiving my compensation check.
I will fully admit that I have written things in the past that would probably be considered controversial. However, the hiring process started in mid-May of this year. Basically, they had over three months to vet my candidacy regarding any controversies. Additionally, the IDP did not release any information about the hiring to the press, thus the trustees knew about my hiring before it was originally announced. Therefore, any evidence could have been presented to the IDP well before I arrived on September 3rd, 2019.
I don’t know if it was ignorance or a desire to promote diversity, but Beechler and others confirmed that Goana-Lincoln possibly discriminated against me during the hiring process because of race. Gender might be a reason as well, but I am not entirely sure. Furthermore, since I was on my probationary period with the party, the rules state that a person could be fired without a cause. However, the agreement does not state the process regarding the removal of the Executive Director. It also states that I should have been given due process, which I was not. Basically, I don’t know if the chair can unilaterally fire someone during the probationary period without any type of process. If that is the case, I see an absolute conflict of interest between the person who opposed my hiring because of my race and the person who ended up firing me (even though she used another excuse for my dismissal) since they are married. I was never asked to present my side of the story.
In an odd way, I need to thank the Idaho Democratic Party for my dismissal, not only because it has finally awaken me to the reason why I desire a total and complete break from politics, but because I don’t know if I could have worked at the IDP for a long period of time. The reason I say that is because, from my observation, the IDP is not a professional political party, but an activist party instead. Instead of trying to win seat, there was a push toward social justice warrior activism that led to the party talking about issue that will probably lead to certain defeat for Democratic candidates, especially in Idaho. It was this ‘set up for failure’ that made me feel uneasy about continuing my work as Executive Director.
Additionally, information that was presented to me (and subsequently to the donors at the fundraiser mentioned previously, thus the information is not protected by IDP privilege outlined in my agreement as this information was eventually publicly presented) regarding the GOTV effort had a number of methodological flaws. And while I told the party that we could present the numbers to the donors (even with its flawed methodology), I was not comfortable doing so. As someone who studied political science and has an extremely strong understanding of political numbers, the claims that were made in this publicly-released document were probably not correct (based on the universe presented, which I will not release knowledge of publicly).
Again, this is the last statement that I will make on this issue. This is also the last thing I will do regarding politics (with the exception of maybe donating to political candidates). It has not been a fun time, and I am somewhat glad that events transpired in the way in which they did, as it would have probably resulted in me eventually tendering my resignation in the near future anyway because of the direction that the party leadership and staff want to go. Still, I met many great people when I was in the Idaho Democratic Party, and I think many of them have the well-being of the party and its candidates in mind. Unfortunately, I think a small minority of people in the party will hold it back.