After Director's Exit, DCCC Leadership Sees Mass Exodus Over Lack Of Diversity

Rep. Cheri Bustos seen before a June interview on MSNBC

Rep. Cheri Bustos seen before a June interview on MSNBC

Politico first reported the news, which a DCCC source confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

Politico was first to report that black and Latino lawmakers were stewing over the fact that Bustos had replaced more diverse staff members with white ones.

The announcement by Representative Cheri Bustos late on Monday followed several days of turmoil at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), a controversy that has sidetracked the organization as it seeks to expand the party's majority in the House in the 2020 election.

In the 10 hours following the departure of Executive Director of the DCCC Allison Jaslow, the committee saw the exit of Communications Director Jared Smith, communications aide Melissa Miller, Political Director Molly Ritner, Deputy Executive Director Nick Pancrazio and Director of Diversity Van Ornelas.

Bustos backed a policy that banned Democratic consultants and vendors from working with primary challengers if they wanted to stay in business with the DCCC.

"She plans to approve changes to the structure before she leaves town and wants to get staff input as we work to build a stronger DCCC and make sure our team, from senior leadership on down, reflects the full range of diversity that gives the Democratic Party its strength".

Jaslow, who is also an Iraq War veteran, said in a statement that her tenure at the DCCC had been "an honor and a true privilege".

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"The DCCC is now in complete chaos", the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

"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", Vela and Gonzalez said.

"It is shocking, it is shocking, and something needs to be done about it".

None of the lawmakers complained about the DCCC's performance this year in raising money and finding candidates to challenge Republicans, the committee's main job.

Many Democrats were also unhappy when Bustos planned to attend an event in support of fellow Illinois Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski, an abortion opponent and one of the most conservative House Democrats. The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the situation publicly, said leaders did not believe Bustos should leave her post. In a statement posted online, Jaslow said that, as she learned while serving in the military, "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 will be replaced by Jacqueline Newman, now the COO of the organization.

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