MILWAUKEE -- Two Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee leaders were fired after staffers raised concerns about bullying and harassment within the committee. The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee's Board of Directors announced the firing Tuesday night, Feb. 4.
The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee's Board of Directors was made aware of concerns about the work environment and certain members Saturday, Feb. 1, when the investigation began.
On Tuesday evening, Feb. 4, the board released the following update on the steps they are taking to reset the culture of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee and restore the workplace environment:
“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. Accordingly, Liz Gilbert and Adam Alonso are no longer employed by the organization, effective immediately.
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. For that reason the Board will continue our impartial, third-party investigation and will take additional steps as needed to ensure the Host Committee’s office culture reflects respect and dignity for each and every employee. Wisconsin resident and convention veteran, Teresa Vilmain, will step in to manage the day-to-day operations during this transition period.”
A letter from individuals raising the allegations was dated Jan. 30 -- but the board was not made aware of the allegations until Feb. 1. Upon learning of the allegations, the board retained legal counsel to coordinate an investigation. Within 24 hours, the board engaged a third-party firm to evaluate and investigate the allegations and report to the board with their findings.
Gilbert was not involved in any discussions regarding the investigation.
"None of this should get in the way of us having a great convention to showcase Milwaukee," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett earlier Tuesday.
Joe Solmonese, the CEO of the Democratic National Convention issued this statement earlier Tuesday:
“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. 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.”
The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, convened in fall 2019, is responsible for "recruiting volunteers," "raising funds" and "providing convention-related facilities."
The board met with leadership monthly to ensure that the mandate of raising funds for the 2020 Democratic National Convention was being successfully met. To date, all fundraising goals were accomplished.
The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee is separate from the responsibilities of the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC), which is responsible for planning and conducting the convention.
The convention starts on Monday, July 13 and runs through Thursday, July 16.