Two leaders of Democratic convention host committee fired in Milwaukee

In this Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 photo, Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, speaks during a press conference providing information for those wishing to volunteer for the 2020 Democratic National Convention in MIlwaukee. 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 two leaders of Milwaukee's host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, the group's president Liz Gilbert, and its chief of staff Adam Alonso, have been placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations that they oversaw a toxic work environment, according to a letter sent to staff working on planning the event. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The two leaders of Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention were fired late Tuesday amid allegations that they oversaw a toxic work environment, a dramatic shakeup less than six months before the showcase political event in swing state Wisconsin.

The host committee board issued a statement saying that the group’s president, Liz Gilbert, and its chief of staff, Adam Alonso, were no longer employed by the organization effective immediately. The firings came a day after Gilbert and Alonso were placed on leave pending an investigation.

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

“Every employee has a right to feel respected in their workplace,” the committee board said. “Based on the information we have learned to date, we believe the work environment did not meet the ideals and expectations of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee Board of Directors.”

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

Joe Solmonese, the chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said the “gravity of the concernd raised” demanded a serious and meaningful response and he was grateful for the board acting promptly to address the issue.

“Employees who take a stand and call for respect, fairness, and safety in their workplace have our full support, and I am proud of the Host Committee employees who courageously came forward,” Solmonese said in a statement.

Teresa Vilmain, described as a Wisconsin resident and convention veteran, was named as manager of day-to-day operations during the transition.