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Exodus at the DCCC: Top aides quit House Democrats’ campaign arm

Allison Jaslow, a close ally of Bustos, had started at the committee this cycle

Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, flew back to Washington to meet with DCCC staff this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, flew back to Washington to meet with DCCC staff this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos announced the appointment of a new interim executive director Monday as she seeks to quell internal jousting between lawmakers and the committee about diversity representation in its upper ranks.

“Today has been a sobering day filled with tough conversations that too often we avoid, but I can say confidently that we are taking the first steps toward putting the DCCC back on path to protect and expand our majority, with a staff that truly reflects the diversity of our Democratic caucus and our party,” Bustos said in a statement.

DCCC leadership had come under fire from some lawmakers for not including more diverse staffers among its top brass.

By Monday evening, multiple news sources reported an exodus of top aides, including some central to the committee’s work towards taking the House in 2018.

The chaos comes on the heels of executive director Allison Jaslow’s resignation. She first announced her departure at all-staff meeting on Monday, and confirmed the news in a statement posted to Twitter.

Jacqueline Newman will serve as interim executive director. The committee will also convene an “executive council” to search for a permanent replacement to Jaslow, Bustos said.

Departing staffers include Molly Ritner, national political director, who was overseeing the committee’s “offensive efforts” in 2020, and who saw Democrats take nine Republican seats as Midwest political director in 2018.

Departures include the chairwoman’s own former aides.

Communications director and former Bustos deputy chief of staff and spokesman Jared Smith, and Melissa Miller, deputy communications director and former Bustos spokesperson and scheduler, also have decided to leave.

Nick Pancrazio, deputy executive director, and Van Ornelas, the committee’s director of diversity have also quit the committee, Politico reported Monday night

Bustos promised Congressional Hispanic Caucus lawmakers Tayhlor Coleman would be reassigned out of the DCCC’s minority outreach program after conservative website the Washington Free Beacon unearthed her 2010 tweets that disparaged the LGBTQ community and Mexican immigrants.

When Politico reported that internal communications showed Coleman still helmed the program, it touched off a tense debate about inadequate diversity representation at House Democrats’ campaign wing, according to the newspaper.

The DCCC has been beset by another controversy in the months since Democrats first won the House. The committee’s newly stated policy that it will not grant contracts to pollsters, strategists and communications specialists working with primary challengers inflamed the party’s left flank.

The “sobering day” at the DCCC was received with glee by rivals at the committee’s Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Mutiny underway at Cheri Bustos’ DCCC,” NRCC spokesman Michael McAdams said to the Washington Examiner. “What a disaster for House Democrats.”