House Democrats watched Monday as the latest scandal to engulf the caucus' campaign arm—this one on minority representation in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee—is deepening divisions on Capitol Hill.
"The #DCCCBlacklist is no longer just about consultants."
The committee, known as the DCCC, acts as the election wing for Congressional Democrats. The DCCC is currently run by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who began the job with the new Congress in January.
Executive director Allison Jaslow resigned her position over the minority representation scandal on Monday—which, according to her Twitter page, was coincidentally her birthday.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Jaslow implied she was taking the fall to spare the DCCC from continuing drama.
"My commitment to the mission, our country, and the people who commit their lives to serving it is unwavering," said Jaslow. "And, sometimes selfless service means having the courage to take a bow for the sake of the mission—especially when the stakes are so high."
Jaslow's resignation, Politico reported Monday, came after an emotional emergency all-hands staff meeting Jaslow ran on Friday after the news first broke that apparently did little to assuage the concerns of the committee staffers over the level of representation in the organization.
Jaslow cried as she assumed blame for the lack of diversity in the DCCC, according to multiple people in the room. Others felt the DCCC misled them in its handling of a staffer, Tayhlor Coleman, who posted derogatory tweets about LGBTQ people and Latinos nearly 10 years ago.
Multiple employees of the campaign arm got visibly upset and at least one demanded to hear directly from Bustos about the ongoing issues. She was not present.
It's unclear whether Jaslow's resignation will be enough to change the narrative around Bustos' tenure, which has already been fraught with controversy. As Common Dreams reported, the DCCC announced in March that the party would effectively blacklist anyone working as a vendor with an insurgent primary campaign aimed at a sitting Democratic incumbent by denying those vendors any other opportunities with the party.
The blacklist policy, freshman Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Ct.) told The New York Times in June, is part of DCCC "gatekeeper mentality that sometimes can diminish new ideas."
That gatekeeper mentality, critics charged over the weekend, involves more than just new blood.
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"The #DCCCBlacklist is no longer just about consultants," tweeted progressive group Our Revolution.
The latest controversy started on Friday.
It began with a report from Politico alleging that differences between the DCCC and some members of Congress were about to boil over dropped right as House Democrats were going on August recess.
According to Politico:
Senior Hispanic and black members of Congress have privately clashed with Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) over her personnel decisions, what they say are tone-deaf comments on race and whether she's lived up to the promises she made during the campaign to win the chairmanship of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) had some of the harshest criticisms for Bustos in the Friday piece, calling the lack of representation "shocking" and saying she would not meet with the group.
"Until they show me they are serious about diversity," Fudge told Politico, "there's no reason for me to meet with them."
By Monday, when, as Politico reported, Bustos returned to Washington during the recess in an attempt to handle the uproar, the DCCC was in "complete chaos," according to a statement from two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela—both Democrats of Texas—who also demanded Bustos replace Jaslow with a qualified person of color.
"The single most immediate action that Cheri Bustos can take to restore confidence in the organization and to promote diversity is to appoint a qualified person of color, of which there are many, as executive director at once," the pair said in their statement.
Splinter editor Paul Blest, in an article on the controversy, wasn't confident that Bustos would turn it around.
"Reminder," wrote Blest, "it's only July 2019. Stay tuned to find out which pile of dog shit the DCCC chair manages to step in next."