Donald Hitchcock’s wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee takes another turn today. Treasurer and openly gay Andrew Tobias sent out an open letter last week hoping that Hitchcock and the DNC can come to an understanding.
Image: Andrew Tobias sandwiched between designers Kenneth Cole and Charles Nolan, who also happens to be his boyfriend.
Joshua Lynsen of The Washington Blade reports:
“We should agree to a very brief press release that basically skirts any points of contention and says, ‘Both parties regret the misunderstandings that led to this lawsuit, and the rising level of hostility it has caused, and – wishing each other well – both recommit ourselves to the cause of equality,” the letter says.
Also in his letter, Tobias chides Hitchcock for leaking, “out of context,” only “the most damaging things” from “all the tens of thousands of pages of documents and deposition transcripts this lawsuit has produced so far.”
He says the DNC has not been fairly represented in media coverage of the lawsuit because “we haven’t been leaking our side of the story.”
Hithcock lost his job last year less than a week after his boyfriend, Paul Yandura, wrote an open letter criticizing the DNC’s gay activism. The DNC maintains they ousted Hitchcock because of his substandard performance. Tobias even refers to some of Hitchcock’s spelling mistakes as evidence of the ill occupational fit.
Hitchcock’s lawyers called Tobias’ letter poppycock and insist that Tobias downplayed the political organization’s offenses. They also say it will take more than a press release to iron out their differences, specifically reparations, according to Lynsen.
Hitchcock’s lawyers also sent us a more detailed – and quite lengthy – press release:
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Lynne Bernabei, Esquire (Representing Mr. Donald Hitchcock)
RE: Tobias eQualityGiving Blog Post Claims
DATE: February 14, 2008
We realize that the DNC and its representatives, including their National Treasurer Andy Tobias, are not used to being held accountable and that they want nothing more desperately than to change the subject about Mr. Hitchcock’s employment and termination while wasting resources to avoid facing the truth.
But, creating documents and excuses almost two years after Mr. Hitchcock’s discrimination, wrongful termination and defamation still does not change the fact that Mr. Hitchcock was a great employee for the DNC, and his direct supervisors never warned, reprimanded or gave a poor performance review to Mr. Hitchcock prior to Paul Yandura writing his letter and Mr. Hitchcock’s firing shortly thereafter.
The reasons for Mr. Hitchcock’s firing seem to keep evolving and changing over time, and such inconsistencies and inaccuracies on behalf of the DNC and its agents will undoubtedly be addressed in court.
GENERAL FACTS ABOUT MR. HITCHCOCK’S EMPLOYMENT
FACT: Mr. Tobias stated under oath that he had no official role in the hiring, supervising or firing of Mr. Hitchcock. [Tobias Dep. (Feb. 5, 2008), pp. 79:3-22, 80:2-8; 165:11-15; 166:1-4, 167:7-9]. Mr. Hitchcock had two supervisors while he was employed at the DNC, and Mr. Tobias was neither of them.
FACT: Mr. Tobias stated in an anonymous statement to The Washington Blade that “Dean and other DNC officials decided several months before Yandura’s public criticism of the party that Hitchcock “was not the best fit” for his job”, (Washington Blade, May 3, 2006). However, Mr. Tobias testified in his deposition that he had no facts to support that statement, and that he could not remember speaking to anyone at the DNC who told him that. [Tobias Dep., pp. 280-281].
FACT: Tom McMahon testified that he talked to Leah Daughtry before Mr. Hitchcock’s termination about how Mr. Yandura’s letter and the bad publicity caused by the letter demonstrated that Mr. Hitchcock was not doing outreach in the LGBT community. In his words, if Mr. Hitchcock could not convince his partner, Mr. Yandura, about all the good things the DNC was doing for the LGBT community, he was not doing his job right. [McMahon Dep. (Jan. 23, 2008), pp. 196-197, 199-200].
FACT: Ms. Daughtry testified that in her opinion Mr. Hitchcock was to blame for not getting the word out about all the good things the DNC was doing for the LGBT community, and that Mr. Yandura’s letter was evidence that Mr. Yandura was not informed about all the good work of the DNC. [Daughtry Deposition, pp. 299-306].
FACT: Mr. McMahon’s testimony and Ms. Daughtry’s testimony is consistent with Chris Owens’ (Mr. Hitchcock’s direct supervisor), who testified that Mr. McMahon wanted to terminate Mr. Hitchcock after a spate of bad publicity in the LGBT press, even though she argued against the termination. She could not testify about the time frame any better than stating that it was in April, after a “spate of bad publicity”. [Owens Dep. (Jan. 25, 2008), pp. 63-64, 136-138, 152].
FACT: Ms. Owens clearly acknowledged that much of the bad press Mr. McMahon was referencing was generated by DNC decisions that Mr. Hitchcock had no control over and/or were made prior to his hire. (Negative press referenced included abolishing LGBT political desks, resignation of LGBT Caucus Chair Jeff Soref, omission of LGBT community in DNC Annual Grassroots Report, and Delegate Selection Rules) [Owens Dep., pp. 63:8 – 65:4, 136:6, 152:1].
MR. TOBIAS CLAIMS THAT MR. HITCHCOCK WAS FIRED BECAUSE HE DID NOT FUNDRAISE
FACT: Mr. Tobias has not produced one email or document from the eleven-month period [Tobias Dep., pp. 171:15-22, 173:19-22, 175: 11-17] of which Mr. Hitchcock was employed that even hinted that he was displeased that Mr. Hitchcock was not fundraising. [Tobias Dep., pp 177:20-22 – 178:1-5].
FACT: Mr. Tobias also stated under oath that Brian Bond has not raised any money for the DNC and does not fundraise, contradicting his often public statements that he does fundraising. [Tobias Dep., p. 75:15-17].
FACT: Mr. Tobias claimed that Mr. Bond’s job description was different from Mr. Hitchcock, but his statements conflict directly with sworn testimony from the DNC Chief of Staff and with Ms. Owens, Director of the American Majority Partnership who directly supervised both Mr. Hitchcock and Mr. Bond. Ms. Owens has stated unequivocally that they have identical job descriptions and responsibilities. [Owens Dep., p 41:3-7; Tobias Dep., pp 35: 19-22, 36:1-7].
FACT: Prior to Mr. Dean’s tenure there were two positions dedicated to the fundraising half of Mr. Hitchcock’s job and two positions dedicated to the political outreach half.
MR. TOBIAS CLAIMS THAT MR. HITCHCOCK MADE SPELLING ERRORS
FACT: There is no evidence that the alleged document that Mr. Tobias referenced as having spelling errors was produced by Mr. Hitchcock, and not just forwarded from DNC files.
FACT: All DNC employees and Mr. Tobias himself have testified that Mr. Tobias had no input with the termination of Mr. Hitchcock, [Tobias Dep., p. 276]. None has testified that alleged misspellings of Mr. Hitchcock had anything to do with his termination.
FACT: Mr. Tobias, a Harvard educated professional writer, journalist and author of at least 10 books, has dozens upon dozens of typos, misspellings and grammatical errors in his subpoenaed documents, as does Mr. Bond, Mr. Hitchcock’s replacement.
FACT: Mr. Bond, Director of the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council, has posted responses in his official DNC capacity (including his last three posts) on the influential eQualityGiving listserve that contained typos, misspellings and/or grammatical errors.
Ms. Owens is a bully and a liar – I have heard.
hells kitchen guy
Andy’s a good guy – too bad he’s caught up this mess.
SPELLING ERROR: Hithcock (thuffering thoccatash, that’s offenthive) Andrew! When John McCain beats Barack Obama, we should all send thankyou cards to Leah Daughtry for her role in a third “Bush term.” Thankyou, you bald-headed closeted lesbian on an evangelical purge of the party of “Everyone” as Ms Daughtry is closing down the DemShop for her own Militia of Christian Hate. Tobias is in over his head and we beg the Clintons to save the party from the new hacks of destruction as Howard Dean can’t even control this huge mess.
How can the suit be settled unless the guy who was wrongfully terminated gets his job back and back pay?
Donald’s lawyer says, above, “Mr. Hitchcock was a great employee for the DNC.”
Here’s some of the story she and the BLADE chose to omit:
In his deposition earlier this month, Donald said one of the main things he was hired to do as director of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council — a fundraising arm of the DNC — was to raise funds for the DNC.
He was asked to list some of the *new* donors he brought in to the GLLC in the 10 months he was working to do so.
He was unable to name any.
He was asked to name some contributions he obtained from *existing* GLLC members.
He couldn’t name any of those, either.
But our massive computer file — which admittedly does not always assign credit exactly where credit is due — shows Donald as the solicitor of 6 contributions in those 10 months (which I thought had been attributed to him in error), so our counsel went through each of the six names, to refresh his memory.
To Donald’s credit — because I will say for the umpteenth time, Donald is a sweetheart and well-meaning and honest — Donald said he didn’t think he had solicited five of the six.
He did remember getting the check from the assistant to the sixth. Fair enough and we appreciate his help.
But, just for the record, that sixth donor had given very generously in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 all before Donald arrived, and maxed out in 2006 and 2007 after Donald left, so I think it can be fairly implied Donald wasn’t pivotally responsible for this contribution either.
AND LET ME GO INTO ALL CAPS TO SAY: FUNDRAISING IS HARD. NOTHING ABOUT HIS HAVING FAILED TO RAISE FUNDS MAKES ME DOUBT DONALD’S FINE CHARACTER. DONALD IS A GOOD GUY.
But even if YOU think “zero” is a satisfactory total to have raised in 10 months collecting salary and benefits, can’t you see why the DNC — even before Paul wrote his famous letter — was trying to figure out how to fix this without hurting Donald (or, for that matter, angering Paul, who we obviously knew is so plugged in to some of our most important donors)?
My first thought in all this was that “zero” is about as bad a score as a fundraiser can have. But actually, you can do worse than zero.
I WANT TO BE VERY CLEAR THAT I AM NOT ASSERTING A DIRECT CONNECTION HERE, but in preparing for my deposition I went back to see what the seven original “Cabinet” members had given the GLLC since its founding in 2000 and up until Donald arrived: $1.1 million. (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!) And from then until the present it has been $8,500.
Obviously, if you widen the search beyond those seven (terrific) LGBT donors, and if you add in all the ill will toward the DNC that Paul and Donald and their friends in the press have engendered since Donald left . . . not to mention all the time that could have been spent on more productive things . . . the loss of revenue from previous and potential donors goes well into the millions and millions.
AND THAT’S THEIR RIGHT. NO ONE SAYS DONALD AND PAUL AND THEIR SUPPORTERS CAN’T SAY WHAT THEY WANT.
I truly believe their motivation is to advance equality.
But I hope people will now consider the possibility that Donald was not fired out of revenge from a hypersensitive DNC . . .
. . . but that rather it really tried hard to spare his feelings . . . yet at some point, with the publicity getting ever worse, and Donald unable to persuade community leaders (like, say, his partner) that the DNC was worth supporting . . . that maybe we could do better for both the cause of equality and the cause of winning in November.
Was replacing one gay man with another an example of discrimination against gay people?
Was giving him a 50% raise to start too little?
*I* argued that we should give him just a *10%* raise, NOT because I hate gay people, but because (a) I hate spending more donor money than needed; and (b) I had really high hopes for Donald and wanted us to have plenty of room to give him meaningful raises if he turned out to be the rainmaker we hoped he’d be — it’s more fun that way.
Those of you who know and love Donald and Paul, as so many of you do, would be doing everyone a huge favor, I think, if you could persuade them that rather than keep this lawsuit going, we should agree to a very brief press release that basically skirts any points of contention and says, “Both parties regret the misunderstandings that led to this lawsuit, and the rising level of hostility it has caused, and — wishing each other well — both recommit ourselves to the cause of equality.”
All this — and more — was in the “open letter” the BLADE reported on — yet not in the BLADE.
Is it not relevant to a fundraiser’s performance that he or she raised no funds?
Why would the BLADE have omitted something so central to the story?
How can Donald’s lawyer say Donald did “a great job for the DNC” when (among other things) one of his principal responsibilities was to raise money and failed to do so?
Please support the DNC. We are working very hard to advance the cause of equality.
Though they doubtless mean well, Donald and Paul and their attorney are really not helping.
But even if YOU think â€œzeroâ€ is a satisfactory total to have raised in 10 months collecting salary and benefits, canâ€™t you see why the DNC â€” even before Paul wrote his famous letter â€” was trying to figure out how to fix this
Well gee, DNC, I can think of ways to fix this.
A few suggestions:
1) Don’t have your head honcho show up on anti-gay religious right television to bash marriage equality;
2) If you do have your head honcho show up on right-wing anti-gay TV to bash marriage equality, don’t compound it by lying about not knowing it was the most odious of those right-wing shows;
3) If you’re going to lie about it, don’t do it in such a way that e-mails from the show clearly demonstrate you’re lying;
4) Link fundraising to serious strides forward that your party can boast about;
5) Make sure your party has made serious strides for equality under the law, such as the passage of UAFA, the repeal of DOMA, the end of DADT, the passage of the MREA, etc.
6) Don’t do stupid things;
7) If you are going to do stupid things, don’t do really stupid things like co-sponsor some of those anti-gay laws;
8) Don’t threaten the gay press when they write factual stories about your misdeeds;
9) Don’t hire a radical religious fundamentalist extremist who publicly embraces anti-gay views as your #2 and then complain when your gay supporters take umbrage;
10) ESPECIALLY don’t scapegoat a former employee with impossible-to-prove (and libelous/defamatory) claims about his responsibilities when its your leadership that created the situation where no queer folks want to give the DNC a red cent;
11) Carefully consider why supposed poor fundraising performance by Hitchcock is grounds for termination (and public attacks against his good name), but poor legislative performance by the Democratic Party is NOT grounds for termination of voting and fundraising by LGBT voters.
Follow all these steps, and the money will start pouring in. I guarantee it.
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