The House Democrats' Campaign Operation Is a Total Shambles Right Now

Screenshot: Bloomberg

Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos was elected the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in November. Her tenure so far has been highly tumultuous, to say the least—and now, she’s embroiled in a major internal controversy.

Bustos almost immediately went to war with progressive House Democrats after trying to kill off primaries by blacklisting consultants that did work for challengers to House incumbents. Later, Bustos caused another fracas by announcing that she’d host a fundraiser for anti-abortion Democrat Dan Lipinski—who voted against Obamacare back in 2010, represents a safe seat he inherited from his father, and is being challenged by pro-choice candidate Marie Newman for the second time. Bustos then canceled that fundraiser after several states began openly trying to ban abortion.

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But things have somehow gotten even worse.

Politico reported last week that black and Latinx Democratic lawmakers were incensed at Bustos and the committee over the lack of diversity in the upper ranks of the House Democrats’ campaign operation, as well as what they view as a lack of outreach to Latinx voters. Now, the site is reporting that Bustos is rushing back to D.C. on Monday to deal with what two Texas congressmen described as “complete chaos”:

In the most dramatic move so far, Texas Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela told POLITICO Sunday that Bustos should fire her top aide, DCCC executive director Allison Jaslow.

“The DCCC is now in complete chaos,” the pair said in a statement to POLITICO. “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. We find the silence of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on this issue to be deafening.”

Per Jaslow’s LinkedIn, her relationship with Bustos goes back to 2012 when she served as Bustos’ campaign manager to her first run for Congress. [See update.]

Complicating matters is a blow-up last month after the conservative Washington Free Beacon published a series of homophobic and racist tweets that DCCC staffer Tayhlor Coleman made in 2009 and 2010, just days after Bustos tapped Coleman to lead an initiative doing outreach to people of color and young voters. Coleman has since apologized (and locked her Twitter account), but while multiple Democratic lawmakers told Politico they didn’t want Coleman fired, they did want her moved to different projects, a request which the DCCC reportedly has not obliged.

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Bustos has responded to the outrage in an appropriately Michael Scott-like fashion. Per Politico, emphasis mine:

In response to the outcry, Bustos has agreed to participate in diversity and inclusion training for DCCC employees. An August training had previously been scheduled for just staff.

[...]

Democratic sources said an all-staff phone call with Bustos on Saturday didn’t go much better. The Illinois Democrat only “briefly” apologized for comments about her family’s racial background that had inflamed some lawmakers and DCCC employees. In response to complaints about the DCCC’s diversity, she has noted that her husband is of Mexican descent, that her children are half-Mexican and that her son is marrying an African-American woman.

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Very cool, Cheri.

“Chairwoman Bustos is coming back because she understands how important it is for her to hear from staff directly and to reassure them that we have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion at every level,” DCCC spokesman Jared Smith told Politico, adding that Bustos “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.”

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Reminder: it’s only July 2019. Stay tuned to find out which pile of dog shit the DCCC chair manages to step in next.

Update, 2:11 p.m. ET: Politico reports that Jaslow announced that she was resigning, effective immediately, at an all-staff meeting on Monday. Following the story, Jaslow released a statement on Twitter:

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