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Democratic convention host committee leaders put on leave

Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, speaks on Jan. 30 during a press conference for potential volunteers for the 2020 Democratic National Convention in MIlwaukee. Gilbert and Adam Alonso, her fellow top official at Milwaukee's host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, have been placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations that they have been overseeing an acrimonious workplace, (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, speaks on Jan. 30 during a press conference for potential volunteers for the 2020 Democratic National Convention in MIlwaukee. Gilbert and Adam Alonso, her fellow top official at Milwaukee’s host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, have been placed on leave pending an investigation into allegations that they have been overseeing an acrimonious workplace, (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — 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 an acrimonious work setting, according to a letter sent to staff employees working on planning the event.

The Associated Press on Tuesday obtained the letter sent Monday to staff employees on the host committee informing them that the group president, Liz Gilbert, and 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 what the alleged behavior entailed.

The 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 $70 million for the convention, recruiting 15,000 volunteers and securing needed buildings.

Four board members of the host committee said in the letter to staff employees that they take the concerns about work seriously and said that “everyone who works for the Host Committee has a right to feel safe and respected while doing their jobs.” The investigation is being led by attorney Carmen Decot, but there is no timeline for when it will be completed. Decot did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

During the investigation, 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.”

“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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