“Toxic” Work Environment at DNC Cited
Investigation launched, top two officials barred from entering DNC offices.
Milwaukee’s effort to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention has hit its first major public stumbling block. The top two employees on the host committee have been accused of creating a “toxic” and “unstable” working environment.
Adam Alonso, the chief of staff, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Organization executive director Liz Gilbert, 30, has been told to stay away from the organization’s Milwaukee Center office and avoid contacting staff while law firm Foley & Lardner conducts an investigation.
“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 advisors and consultants who have no clear role or clear lines of management,” wrote an anonymous group of “senior women from the host committee” to the committee’s five-member board. The letter, dated Thursday, January 30th, said the concerns were brought to Gilbert’s attention in November, but she had defended Alfonso.
Barrett’s office did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
The public face of the organization seemed to have a strong component of women. In presentations to the Common Council, female employees, many in leadership positions, were often the only members to speak. Alonso has not appeared before the council.
In a letter to employees, the board said it learned of the concerns over the weekend and opened a formal investigation. It provided written support for employees and encouraged them to come forward to the third-party investigation team with concerns.
The DNC host committee board includes Gilbert, Godfrey & Kahn attorney Rebeca M. López, Arenberg Holdings founder John W. Miller, Dohmen Company general counsel Michael O’Neil and UW-Milwaukee vice chancellor of global inclusion and engagement Joan Prince. Barrett and U.S. Representative Gwen Moore chair the effort. Gilbert did not sign the letter to the staff.
Both Gilbert and Alonso are veterans of the New Jersey Democratic Party and were still getting paid as consultants while also working in Milwaukee. But Alonso lost his $15,000-per-month Garden State gig after the DNC news broke Monday evening. Gilbert’s work was reportedly finished by December, having been paid $5,000 over the last quarter of 2019.
Gilbert, a Florida native, was named executive director in May 2019. She graduated from UW-Madison and was an intern with the state Democratic Party. She was most recently executive director of New Jersey’s Democratic Party.
Alonso, 35, served as deputy chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy until May 2018 and works as a strategist through his firm, The Cratos Group.
Chief among the host committee’s responsibilities is raising $70 million to fund the convention, but a separate entity, the Democratic National Convention Committee, is run by Joe Solmonese and controlled by the national party, which runs the convention itself.
The convention will be held from July 13th through 16th.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
More about the Road to the DNC
- Will Milwaukee Get DNC in 2024? - Jeramey Jannene - May 25th, 2020
- 2020 DNC Contingency Plan Moves Forward - Alana Watson - May 13th, 2020
- DNC Postponed To Mid-August - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 2nd, 2020
- Democratic National Convention Committee Announces Date Change in Response to Unprecedented Coronavirus Outbreak - Milwaukee 2020 DNC Convention Committee - Apr 2nd, 2020
- DNC “Should Not Be Our Priority,” Barrett Says - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 1st, 2020
- Biden Says Convention May Be Postponed - Corri Hess - Apr 1st, 2020
- Ald. Coggs: Discussion needed on whether city can deliver services and meet DNC marks during COVID-19 pandemic - Ald. Milele Coggs - Mar 30th, 2020
- DNC Bar Time Bill Passes Senate Committee - Laurel White - Mar 12th, 2020
- The State of Politics: How Will State Party Pick DNC Delegates? - Steven Walters - Mar 9th, 2020
- What the DNC Could Mean for Locals - Sam Woods - Feb 29th, 2020
- DNC Host Committee Hires New Leaders - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 28th, 2020
- Urban Ideas: Make MCTS Free During DNC - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 27th, 2020
- City Hall: Police To Lease Two Buildings During DNC - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 24th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: DNC Will Restrict Construction Projects - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 11th, 2020
- Transportation: We Energies Will Sponsor Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2020
- DNCC Names Construction and Event Management Teams for 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee - Milwaukee 2020 DNC Convention Committee - Feb 10th, 2020
- DNC Delegate Welcome Party To Be Held at Summerfest Grounds - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 7th, 2020
- Milwaukee DNC Leaders Fired by Board - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 4th, 2020
- “Toxic” Work Environment at DNC Cited - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 4th, 2020
- Watch: Wisconsin Gun Violence Survivor, Khary Penebaker, Featured in Mike Bloomberg 2020 Campaign Ad Highlighting Urgent Need to Prevent Gun Violence - Mike Bloomberg - Jan 31st, 2020
- DNC Needs 15,000 Volunteers - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 30th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Fiserv Forum Workers to Get $15/Hour - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 29th, 2020
- City Hall: DNC Security Zone Includes Almost All of Westown - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 17th, 2020
- DNC Chair Talks Healthcare in Milwaukee - Corri Hess - Jan 17th, 2020
- City Hall: Milwaukee Seeking $50 Million To Pay for DNC Security - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 16th, 2020
- Mark Pocan Endorses Bernie Sanders for President - Bernie Sanders - Jan 16th, 2020
- 500 Media Members Get DNC Preview - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 7th, 2020
- Mayor Bloomberg Comes to Town - Graham Kilmer - Dec 23rd, 2019
- Mike Bloomberg Rebuilding ‘Blue Wall’ in PA, MI, WI - Mike Bloomberg - Dec 21st, 2019
- Trump Picks Camp David Over Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 6th, 2019
- City Hall: 4,000 Police Officers Will Guard DNC - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 14th, 2019
- Security Will Be Tight At DNC - Corri Hess - Nov 14th, 2019
- Tom Steyer Comes to Town - Dave Fidlin - Nov 8th, 2019
- Airport Prepares for 2020 Convention - Corri Hess - Oct 28th, 2019
- Barrett, Moore to Lead Growing DNC Team - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 25th, 2019
- DNC Team Pitches Civic Leaders - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 15th, 2019
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Airbnb Says Milwaukee is Fastest Growing Destination - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 11th, 2019
- Coalition to March on the DNC Looks to Rally Local Progressive Organizations and Demand Permits for Peaceful Assembly - Coalition to March on the DNC - Oct 10th, 2019
- Business, Property Owners Discuss How To Benefit From DNC - Corri Hess - Sep 24th, 2019
- Presidential Candidate Klobuchar Visits City - Alana Watson - Sep 20th, 2019
- Supermajority Organizations to Launch Cross-Country Bus Tour to Mobilize Women Ahead of 2020 - Supermajority - Sep 4th, 2019
- DNC Official Downplays Illinois Hotels - Corri Hess - Aug 26th, 2019
- Sanders Leads Dems in State Funds Raised - Robin Bravender - Aug 20th, 2019
- Democrats Speak at Latino Convention - Jim Cryns - Jul 12th, 2019
- DNC Emphasizing Security, Inclusivity for 2020 Convention - Dave Fidlin - Jun 20th, 2019
- City Hall: Will DNC Convention Help Small Businesses? - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 25th, 2019
- Perez Sees Regional Impact For DNC Convention - Corri Hess - Apr 24th, 2019
- City Hall: What’s the Infrastructure Plan for DNC? - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 4th, 2019
- 4 Ways To Get Involved In DNC - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 15th, 2019
- City Hall: To Host DNC, Barrett Must Be Reelected - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 14th, 2019
- Why Did Democrats Choose Milwaukee? - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 11th, 2019
- City Hall: City Approves DNC Contract - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 11th, 2019
- City Hall: 12 Rules For City in DNC Convention Contract - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 11th, 2019
- City Wins 2020 Democratic Convention - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 11th, 2019
- Milwaukee Named Host City for 2020 Democratic National Convention - Milwaukee 2020 DNC Convention Committee - Mar 11th, 2019
- Statement by IBEW Local 494 Business Manager on Milwaukee being selected to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention - International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 494 - Mar 11th, 2019
- Lt. Gov.-Elect Barnes Confident Funding Will be Secured to Host DNC - Corri Hess - Dec 27th, 2018
- Co-Chairs of the Milwaukee 2020 DNC Convention Host Committee Announced - Milwaukee 2020 DNC Convention Committee - Dec 17th, 2018
- Will Election Help City Get Convention? - Corri Hess - Nov 12th, 2018
- In the DNC Selection Process, Milwaukee is the Crème de la Crème - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Jul 23rd, 2018
- Milwaukee Named Finalist for the 2020 Democratic National Convention - Milwaukee 2020 DNC Convention Committee - Jun 20th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Meet the Finalists for Democratic National Convention - Jeramey Jannene - May 11th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Bidding for Democratic National Convention - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 21st, 2018