, Chair - King County Democrats
In recent weeks, I have had allegations launched against me that I would like to address. Before I do so, I would like to apologize to you and every Democrat in King County. It has become apparent that my behavior and the perception of my behavior has become a distraction during one of the most important elections of our time. When I was elected to lead our party at age 25, I had a lot of growing up to do, it has become evident to me that I still have an uphill climb to do in order to fulfill the potential I have in leading our party. To those of you who have felt unheard, unrecognized and unappreciated – I am sorry I made you feel that way.
While I do not believe my behavior warrants my resignation or removal as your Chair, I do believe that at times I acted inappropriately and that it is important to tell you the full story. I have written down the entire series of events involved in this with hopes to provide you clarity on the accusations and truthfulness or lack thereof in them and the narrative that has been spread.
On January 27th, I attended the State Committee Meeting in Bellingham where I serve on the Chair’s Organization Board as well as I was representing the King County Democrats as a proxy vote for our State Committeewoman. During that day, I was contacted by the venue management and notified a person in my party had acted inappropriately during the course of the day. They showed me a video of a person taking the lid off of their coffee cup and pouring coffee all over a parked and unoccupied vehicle. As I watched their video, I determined the person they had identified in the video was my Executive Director. I spoke with her and she quickly admitted the misconduct. I brought her to the venue management where she apologized for her actions and I believe she was very authentic in doing so.
Over the course of the 27th and 28th, I was unsure what do in regards to the employees behavior. I consulted with my First Vice Chair who was also at the event and we both came to the conclusion the employee should be terminated. My Vice Chair sent me a text on January 27th at 6:15pm mentioning that we should get out in front of this situation before others find out, her text to me confirms we spoke about it that day.
I also spoke to a couple of mentors who are party elders. One of them put it in perspective for me by asking; “What would your donors say if they say that behavior?”
Upon returning to Seattle and returning to my day job on January 29th I was sent to Olympia to brief legislators on upcoming tax bills and the impact the McCleary decision would have on those tax bills. I was in Olympia full time beginning the evening of the 29th and not returning to King County until February 1st only to attend one meeting and then back to Olympia the same day. I returned to King County outside of my work status on February 2nd.
Records show I sent a text message on January 29th to the Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee Nancy Podschwit. The text said ““Let’s chat on the phone tomorrow – need to update you on a few things – 1 is super sensitive.” To which she responded “Oh..of course.”
My phone records show I placed a call to the Treasurer, Nancy Podschwit, on February 1st at 1:18pm and the call lasted for 7 minutes. During this call I shared with Nancy the previous incident involving the Executive Director and the conclusion that the Vice Chair and I had come to. I asked Nancy what her thoughts were and if she was in agreement. She indicated she was in agreement that terminating the employee seemed appropriate. My phone records also show I called Nancy again on February 1st at 6:27pm where I quickly asked her to look into how to stop regular reccurances from the payroll company for the employee we were terminating. My phone records show that Nancy called me back on February 1st at 6:35pm where we briefly talked about the payroll situation.
On February 2nd at 1:53pm Nancy sent me a text saying “What is happening..should I have the debit card turned off.” I responded at 1:53pm and said “Not yet – I’m just getting to the office to meet with her. I’ll call you when it’s done.” She responded at 1:54pm with “Do you want me to turn off the card.” I responded at 1:54pm with “After I finish this we will turn it off.”
Phone records show I called Nancy again on February 2nd at 2:38pm to tell her I was about to meet with the employee. I asked her for any last minute advice on how to approach the subject. I also walked through a checklist with her of items the Party would need back and how paperwork should be done, etc. The phone conversation last 11 minutes.
My conversation with the Executive Director was very brief but very pleasant and productive. She indicated during the conversation she knew why I was taking the actions I was. It was so pleasant that I offered her 3 things: 1. I offered to write a letter of recommendation for her next opportunity. 2. I offered to be listed as a positive reference for her next employer. 3. I offered her an extra week on payroll to transition her projects to others.
Still on February 2nd at 3:00pm, I sent an email calling for a Special Meeting of the Executive Board. This was necessary for 2 reasons: 1. I needed to discuss (unrelated) pending litigation with the board. 2. I needed to inform them that the Executive Director had moved on to other opportunities and I would be their point of contact going forward. There has been an allegation made by folks that I had no plan to notify the Executive Board of the actions taken. This is untrue but I didn’t feel it was appropriate to do via email – I felt a special meeting would be more appropriate so the communication wasn’t forwarded.
Our Treasurer, Nancy Podschwit, texted me again on February 2nd at 7:27pm with “Done” indicating she had turned off the debit card in the Executive Director’s possession.
There has been an allegation made by folks that I came to the decision to terminate the employee alone and I didn’t concur with the Treasurer/Chair of the Finance Committee which would violate the bylaws of the organization. Not only is this not true but quite the opposite – in addition completing the termination with the Treasurer, I brought in the opinion of the First Vice Chair for an additional set of eyes looking at the issue.
On February 4th at 4:24pm, I was contacted by the Vice Chairs of the organization in an email penned by Mr. Maddux (2nd Vice Chair.) The email notified me that I was the subject of a code of conduct complaint and that the Vice Chairs would be investigating my actions. The email specifically said the complaint was relating to “workplace harassment, sexual harassment and creation of a hostile work environment.”
I responded to the Vice Chairs on February 5th at 6:45pm. In my response to the Vice Chair’s I noted 6 times that I take these issues seriously, I would co-operate and I look forward to meeting with them. I did note that the next week would be nearly impossible for me to meet due to my day job obligations. As the Party Chair, I volunteer all of my time and am unpaid for this work. As my day job, I serve as the Communications Director for the King County Assessor. In that capacity, I was working with multiple county offices to prepare and release property tax bills which reflected the largest property tax increase in recent county history – the same reason I had spent the previous week in Olympia with legislators. At no point in my email to the Vice Chairs did I refuse to meet or dismiss the claims – I simply said let’s find a time that works for all of us.
On February 7th at 3:11pm (about 45 hours later), I received another email from Mr. Maddux on behalf of the Vice Chairs. This email said they had investigated the complaints made against me and found all of the complaints to be founded. The referenced a report that was supposed to be attached. They also demanded my resignation by 7pm that evening (less than 4 hours later.) The report they referenced was not actually attached.
Still on February 7th at 5:09pm, I received another email from Mr. Maddux on behalf of the Vice Chairs. This email had attached the earlier referenced report attached and gave me less than 2 hours to resign, despite never being interviewed or questioned by the Vice Chairs during their investigation.
The attached report had the following in it:
I was shocked when I read these allegations and I want to address them:
I have never called anybody – volunteers and staff included – a “stupid bitch.”
They claim that I called staff a “stupid bitch and stupid cunt” for not coming out to have shots and drinks with him.
Staff - “I’m going to Linda’s at like 10pm tonight :).”
Staff – “I’ve got company coming soon! Star trek party!”
Me – “Ew.”
Me – “Trekkies aren’t allowed in my bar”
Staff “They walk among you”
Me – “No”
Me – “Please see your snap chat”
Staff – “Omg this game takes forever”
Me – “Oh well we’re waiting at Linda’s to celebrate with you for maybe another 30 mins then we out”
Staff – “Ok well we’re wrapping it up but I probably won’t be there for at least half an hour”
Staff – “Have you been there all day?! I told you I’d let you know when I was heading out!”
Me – “You said 10pm”
Me – “Wanna see the text?”
Me – “I’m going to Linda’s at like 10pm tonight :)”
Me – “So I’ve rallied 3 people plus me to be here at 10 and you wanna make up lies about texting me when you’re going out like I live in Seattle and can just jot down the street? LIAR”
Staff – “I expected to be done by 10! But the game is getting done now, at 10:09.”
Staff – “SORRY”
Me – “I’m fine. You tried to give me shit and make up a lie about texting me when you were going out?!?!?! Nah bitch you said 10”
Staff – “Yesterday when we were talking I said I’d let you know! This thing doesn’t have a hard stop time. Plus I know you just wanted to hang out at Linda’s anyways!”
Me – “Lying sack of shit.”
Me – “You texted today and said 10pm”
Staff – “Ok well you guys can go. Tell everyone hi.”
Me – “Ok if that’s how you feel I shall! Patiently waiting”
Staff – “No its ok just do your thing and have fun with everyone! It’s just not in the cards tonight. This went on an hour longer than it was supposed to and getting people out of my house is going to be hard”
Me – “I thought they were coming with you? So confused”
Staff – “Things just went a lot longer and people still have drinks and its like herding fucking cats.”
Staff – “And you said you’d be leaving at 10:30 so I figured this wasn’t going to work out”
Me – “LOL when you come out let me know. We left Linda’s but just rolling around the hill for a bit”
Me – “Listen I brought my old ass out to celebrate the greatness that is –employee name- so you need to come out at some point and let me know your location so I can purchase you an adult beverage to celebrate your punk ass. God bless. Love you.”
Staff – “I love you too! But I may not come out tonight. Truth. My house situation is a mess.”
Me – “Ok”
This was a conversation between two people who clearly thought of each other as friends. Nobody was called a derogatory name in an aggressive or direct way. The word “bitch” was used as it had been in several other references, from the staff to myself as “bitch please” like a slang term for “get outta here.” It was not used as a derogatory term or aggressively. Just like the staff member’s use of the word “fucking” – it was not offensive nor professional because it was a conversation between two friends that occurred around 10pm – well after work hours and out of a work context. I also think it is important to note the staff member invited me out – not the other way around.
1.5 hours later the conversation continues:
Staff – “Everyone *finally* left my house and I’m going out to kremworks!”
Staff – “DANCE PARTY”
Staff – “Come!!+”
Me – “Ok I’m coming”
Staff – “Yay!!!”
As you can see again, staff through no obligation, over an hour later, invited me to come celebrate her birthday after the earlier exchange between us. At no point during this time is anybody called a “stupid bitch” or a “stupid cunt” or are they pressured to “take shots.” In one text, I offered to buy the staff member an “adult beverage” for their birthday but I would offer that to anybody having a birthday. It wasn’t a demand to come take shots or some sort of drinking binge. The above allegation is absolutely not true.
The allegation is made that I “repeatedly pressured staff to drink or take shots.”
“He is spending money on hotel rooms, alcohol and food when unnecessary,” is a claim made in the report. Again this is simply not accurate. I have utilized hotel rooms or accommodations approximately 4 times since I have been Chair.
The claim that I am spending money on alcohol and food unnecessarily is false.
Staff is continuously scared of not being paid because there is not enough money in the bank is another false claim that is made against me.
Staff is continuously intimidated by Bailey.
Again, I was never interviewed by the Vice Chairs or allowed to present evidence telling the other side of the story during the course of their “investigation.”
On February 8th at 8:05am, Michael Maddux sent an email to the Executive Board titled “Investigation Findings Into Chair Bailey Stober.” The email had the attached report I had been sent the evening earlier with the above accusations – listing them all as “founded.”
Later on February 8th at about 6:00pm, I received my first of many media calls inquiring about the attached report.
At 7:00pm still on February 8th, I called our Special Meeting to order of the Executive Board. I informed the board of pending litigation against us in regards to the PDC / Attorney General investigation. I also informed the board of the termination of the Executive Director. There were no questions from the board at that time so I adjourned the meeting.
On February 9th – Vice Chair Orchideh Raisadani sent an email to the Executive Board to help “clarify” and “answer questions.” In the email she stated “We still do intend to interview Mr. Stober when he makes himself available to us.” This still has not happened. This email thread turned into a huge back and forth response between board members. It included one person who emailed back to inform everyone they weren’t even a board member and didn’t understand why they were getting these emails.
On February 9th – Due to the volume of emails discussing this sensitive subject, which is inappropriate on email, I emailed the two people in charge of technology, Roger Crew and Jon Culver. I instructed them to shut down the email list serve access on this topic. There is a claim I shut down the email access for some conspiracy purpose and that is false. I shut it down because Robert’s Rules of Order is clear that we must discuss these types of issues in executive session at a meeting. Confidential information had already been released to the media and folks not on the board based on this email traffic. The entire point of the email list is for announcements and that is how it had historically been used.
On February 20th – I sent an email to the board calling for our regular meeting to occur per the usual schedule on February 27th at 7pm at the Teamsters Hall. I attached the agenda which called for an executive session to discuss the code of conduct complaints and then new business where I anticipated motions would be made relating to that topic.
On February 27th – I asked DNC Member David McDonald to preside over the meeting since I had a conflict of interest. The board met and went into executive session for around 3 hours. During this time the Vice Chairs produced a lengthy written report with more information about their investigation. This was the first time I had been permitted to see this report and I was not allowed to keep a copy, it was collected at the end of executive session. At the end of executive session, the board went back into general session to make motions based on what they had heard in executive session. Several motions and amendments were made but ultimately what ended up passing was a motion calling the investigation by the Vice Chair’s “incomplete.” In order to complete the investigation, the motion called for the Chair to pick 2 investigators, the Vice Chair’s to pick 2 investigators and the collective 4 would pick the 5th investigator to serve on the panel. I want to be clear – I did NOT ask for this method – and I personally felt uncomfortable being asked to pick two people to investigate myself. I would have rather the board pick a panel of 3 amongst themselves. However, this motion passed 40-4 which was 91% of the board. The presiding officer set arbitrary deadlines for both sides to have appointed their 2 investigating parties. I met my deadlines by picking 2 highly respected women. One of them is a current elected official and former Judge and the other is a former candidate for office who teaches equity across the state. The Vice Chair did not meet the deadline and claimed they could not find appointees for their side of the committee.
On February 28th – It was falsely reported by both a member of the media and members of our executive board that we were no longer allowed to use the Teamsters Hall because of the allegations against me. This is not true. I received an email on February 28th from the building manager informing me we were unable to continue using their building because of the behavior of several board members. This behavior included members using rooms we were not allowed to use, arguing with building staff, making a mess and disrespecting the rules of the building. It had absolutely nothing to do with allegations.
On March 5th – I met with Vice Chair Orcheideh Raisadani along with State Committeewoman Jami Smith at the Redmond Library. At this time, and at my request, along with the consent of the Presiding Officer, the Vice Chair presented me with the evidence they had collected throughout the investigation. I asked to see any communication where I said “stupid bitch” or “stupid cunt” and I was told that evidence did not exist. I asked to see any communication where I “pressured staff to drink or take shots” and the only thing I was shown was the text thread, listed above, from the staff members birthday. No other evidence was presented to me to support that claim. I was shown the statement from the staff member and it specifically and clearly says “I don’t believe my gender had anything to do with it,” contrary to the claim of gender based sexual harassment that has been spread.
On March 9th – Presiding Officer David McDonald asked me to call for a Special Meeting of the board to discuss a “plan B” since there was not one in place, since the investigation committee could not form. At this point in time the Vice Chair raised a concern that David was not impartial and was my friend and could not be an unbiased Chair. I want to state, David McDonald is not my friend. Before I was County Chair, I had absolutely no idea who he was. We do not have a relationship outside of the Party. He has been involved in the Party for over 30 years and is a rules expert, which is why I had asked him to act as the Presiding Officer. However, since the Vice Chair objected, neither David nor I felt comfortable with him continuing as the Presiding Officer. I suggested appointing an outside Chair which all parties agreed to. I suggested appointing the Chair of the Pierce County Democrats Tim Farrell which all parties agreed to.
On March 12th – I received an email from Treasurer Nancy Podschwit informing me the Finance Committee had conducted an audit of the books and determined I had violated the Section 10.4, 11.4, 10.1, 10.3 and 10.6 of the bylaws. First, I must admit that I was amazed that there now existed a Finance Committee. I, along with the Executive Director held a weekly call for the Finance Committee to discuss finances and ensure we were on the same page. During these calls it was clear and communicated that the only two members of the Finance Committee were Nancy Podschwit and Committee Vice Chair Andrew Everett. Now, in this new report, the Committee had gained 3 additional members – 2 of which had already signed on to a public letter calling for me to resign before joining the committee in recent days. Their report alleges the following:
Made most financial contributions to candidates and political committees in 2017 in violation of bylaws sections 10.4 and 11.4 requiring contributions to be made only with majority vote of the board approving the amounts and candidates, after giving seven days notice of said vote;
“Bryan and David,
A member below has raised concerns about contributions we made during the Primary Election and are in the middle of making in the General Election. While I hear her points I am confused and looking to you both for guidance.
We have been spending under the authority of an approved, authorized and voted on budget that our Executive Board voted on.
Section 10.1: Budget
The Executive Board shall approve a budget for KCDCC. The Finance and Development Committee shall propose a budget for each calendar year and submit this budget to the Executive Board each year no later than its February meeting. The budget shall include proposed spending with as much particularity in itemization as could be reasonably expected.
The budget must be adopted, and may be amended, by a majority vote of the Executive Board. Notice1 of the proposed budget or amendment must be published at least seven days before the meeting at which action on the budget will be considered.
Section 10.4: Contributions to Campaigns
Contributions to any candidate, ballot issue, or political committee must be specifically approved by the Executive Board prior to the contribution. Notice1 of a proposed contribution must be published at least seven days before the meeting at which the contribution is to be considered.
In the budget I listed a chunk of dollars for contributions but did not itemize which candidates.
Section 10.7: Financial Authority
The KCDCC or its Executive Board may vest financial authority in the KCDCC officers or employees in accordance with adopted programs and budget.
Lastly, with a passed and approved budget, I assumed the Executive Board was vesting financial authority in the officers / Chair / Treasurer to execute that budget.
I need your guidance please.
Made contributions to an unendorsed candidate outside King County without approval or notice to the board in violation of bylaw section 11.4;
Exceeded the budget for candidate contributions by $10,135, spending $30,135 in total in 2017 against an approved budget of $20,000, without votes by the board to increase spending;
Made contributions to candidates in violation of bylaws even after private objections from members that the spending was inappropriate, never informing the board fully of the contribution expenditures;
Rented office space with a monthly rent of $1800, 2.25 times that approved by the board, without approval or clearly communicating the excess cost, and putting the organization at significant risk, in total spending $2950 more than was budgeted for 2017; Agreed to a lease through December 2018, putting mandatory expenditures on the organization of $21,600 in 2018;
Renovated the office space without budgetary authority or vote from the board with excess spending in the amount of $2723;
Exceeded budgetary authority in spending on utilities for the office by authorizing services totaling more than $500/month against a budget of $250/month;
Exceeded the budgetary authority for office supplies by spending $4,982.42 more than budgeted for 2017, without requesting additional spending authority from the body or justifying such high spending;
Spent $7,094.04 in excess of the budget for travel intended for attending state party meetings, instead going to many meetings and events around the state unrelated to the business of electing Democrats in King County;
Spent money outside of budget on meals, accommodations, mileage, parking and entertainment in a way that brings disrepute to the organization such as renting a house on Vashon Island for a leadership retreat in which the officers and committee chairs only attended for one day but which was rented for three during which the chair posted on public social media his use of organization money for what appeared to be unprofessional and non-business socializing;
Mislead the body on the effectiveness of fundraising including telling the body at the June meeting that the Salmon Bake had raise $17,100 when according to financial data it only raised $8436;
March 14th - Hi Finance Committee (minus Steve; I couldn't find his email),
Thank you for your work auditing KCDCC. I have a small concern on the findings from the salmon bake.
1. Bailey wasn't the person who said the salmon bake raised $17K. I was the one who announced that at the meeting.
2. Nancy and I exchanged several emails about donations that came in for the salmon bake but were counted as "general donations." For example, I believe the state party sponsorship for $1,000 was counted as general contributions. I raised these concerns at the time and there was an email thread on July 27th discussing this (I include the date so that Nancy can reference it more easily if needed). I ended up saying that I did not care which "category" the donations were recorded in, as long as the money was raised, but now I feel the need to correct the record for the sake of accuracy.
3. Here is transcript from an email I sent to Nancy breaking down the numbers. After this email was sent, we subsequently (after the meeting) corrected the amount to $16,350 after realizing that one donation was already counted in the action network amount.
"We took in $7,850 for the salmon bake via action network
+2,560 in donations at the event
+531 at the door
+450 in new memberships at the event
+859 from the bar
That is a total of $12,250.
+$1,500 event sponsorship from Courtney Gregoire
+$1,000 event sponsorship from state party
+$500 from Jeanne Kohl-Welles
+$500 from Mia Gregerson
+$500 from Bob Hasegawa (part of his $5,000 pledge was for a table at the event, it wasn't free)
+$350 from Michelle Rylands
+$350 from Sheriff Urqhart
Grand Total is $16,950.
In addition to that, I also have three remits from the salmon bake in my car that I forgot to give you on Tuesday (my fault) that total $325. I can call you today and read you off the numbers or send you scanned copies of the remits via email. What works for you?"
4. I know the salmon bake did not cost more than that $16K number. Additionally, when we talk about money raised, I mean total revenue, not profits. Total revenue is how we calculate fundraising so that's how I calculated the salmon bake.
5. Overall, I think the conclusion that Bailey misrepresented the salmon bake amount is incorrect. I also think the conclusion that the salmon bake lost money, or made $650, is false. I wanted to make you all aware of this because I believe this should be corrected.
Thank you again for your work. I know this probably took a lot of time and I only raise this concern because I believe all KCDCC findings should be as accurate as possible to avoid confusion.
Mislead other progressive organizations in the region by exaggerating the ability of the King County Democrats to raise money including telling LD organizations that the county party raised $167,000 in seven months when that had not occurred;
Mislead the organization by claiming we met or exceeded fundraising expectations during the year, when in reality we failed to meet the budget plan for fundraising by around $18,000.
To summarize: revenues were 27% over the projected budget and expenditures were 33% below budget.
Another key fact: I, as the Chair, do not have a debit card or check book. I cannot spend money. I can submit a reimbursement request which then must be signed and authorized by the Treasurer. How can you misappropriate money if you don't have access to it?
Another allegation that has been made multiple times is that the executive board was left in the dark and had no clue how the finances were going within the organization.
On March 19th – The Executive Board met again to discuss what to do since the previous investigation committee failed to launch. During this meeting I asked twice to be allowed to respond to the allegations against me – twice I was denied. The board accepted the above, flawed, financial report without hearing my response. They voted to appoint a new investigator into the harassment allegations whom I am very happy to meet with. They set a trial for me that will be held on April 10th. After the trial a meeting of the PCO’s in the County will occur and they will determine my fate. They can vote to remove me as Chair or they can decide to keep me and allow me to finish my term.
The allegations against me change regularly and new ones are launched routinely. Most of them are easily disproven given the chance for an explanation. The Vice Chair’s didn’t interview me as part of their investigation nor did the Finance Committee interview me as part of their investigation. Some folks have found it easier to make allegations, launch them into the public and ask the court of public opinion to make a judgment before actual due process is utilized. That shows how political this is – it isn’t done in hopes for justice. As County Party Chair, I give a minimum of 25 hours per week to the Party but most times it is closer to 40. As do you, I’ve made huge personal sacrifices with my family, friends and career to dedicate my life to the Party. All I have asked for is fairness and to be heard. Most of the allegations made against me are absolutely false. What is true is that I am sorry. I am sorry for causing division within the Party. I am sorry that I befriended an employee and engaged in slang and sloppy, unprofessional communication with that friend, even if it was outside of work, it was inappropriate. I am sorry that text messages between friends have been released, taken out of context and used and more importantly, that I participated in them to begin with. I can acknowledge I have made significant mistakes. I acknowledge that people have been hurt because of my actions. I understand that many now question my leadership abilities. I acknowledge I have growing up to do and more answers to provide. But, I pour my heart and soul into this Party every single day. My intentions have always been good. I am not perfect, none of us are. I ask for your forgiveness as I acknowledge my mistakes and move forward in my career and our community.
I ask you to look past the rhetoric, the media and the accusations and examine the facts. Look at the allegations versus the answers and decide what you believe the intent was.
Thank you for your consideration,