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Top Democratic Convention Organizers Placed on Leave, Investigation Underway

The two leaders of Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention have been placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations that they oversaw a toxic work environment, a letter sent to staff working on planning the event revealed.

The Associated Press on Tuesday obtained the letter sent Monday to host committee staff informing them that the group’s president, Liz Gilbert, and its chief of staff, Adam Alonso, were on leave while an attorney looked into the allegations.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on the investigation.

Gilbert and Alonso did not immediately return messages Tuesday seeking comment.

The letter did not describe in any detail about what the alleged behavior entailed.

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The dramatic shakeup comes less than six months before Democrats will gather for their showcase political event to choose their presidential nominee in swing-state Wisconsin.

The host committee is a civic, nonpartisan group responsible for raising the $70 million, recruiting the 15,000 volunteers and providing the facilities needed to put on the convention in July.

Four board members of the host committee said in the letter to staff that they take concerns about the work environment seriously and that “everyone who works for the Host Committee has a right to feel safe and respected while doing their jobs.”

The investigation is being done by attorney Carmen Decot, but there is no timeline for when it will be done. Decot did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

During the probe, Gilbert will not be in the office or have contact with staff, and Alonso has been placed on paid administrative leave, the letter said.

Joe Solmonese, the chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said in a statement that claims made by employees of the host committee described “an unacceptable and upsetting environment.”

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“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,” Solmonese said.

The host committee board of directors was moving forward with a plan to “restore an office culture that aligns with the values and expectations of our party,” he said.

The Democratic National Convention Committee runs the convention and is separate from the host committee.

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