IN FAVOR from Brian D.
It is with a heavy heart that I join most members of the Montgomery County Electoral Working Group to argue firmly in favor of Resolution 2022-04-01, a resolution to Revoke the Metro DC DSA Endorsement of Brandy Books for Montgomery County Council. This is not an easy action for any of us to take, and here’s why: since late February of this year, members of the working group knocked on door after door every weekend for Brandy Brooks, in precinct after Montgomery County precinct, all the while working to raise money for our Solidarity PAC to pay for literature that featured her prominently. In my case, I strongly suppported Brandy Brooks Council campaign in 2018–we almost made it happen–and in 2022 my spouse and I maxed out in contributing to her campaign. Simply put, the members of the Electoral Working Group were among Brandy Brooks’ strongest supporters in Metro DC DSA. No longer. The well-grounded and credible complaints about highly inappropriate behavior by Brandy Brooks toward a well-regarded and trusted employee resulted in an unacceptable political gut punch delivered by our own candidate.
As socialists, we know that the personal is political–we cannot act one way in private and another way when facing the public. Accordingly, the Metro DC DSA endorsement of Brandy Brooks should be revoked. Failure to act on our part would encourage a toleration of the intolerable. By way of backround, I first joined DSA at the 1982 Detroit founding convention, where I was a delegate. Prior to that convention, I was dual member of two DC area socialist organizations: the Bread and Roses Chapter of the New American Movement and the DC/Maryland Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC).
IN FAVOR from Stu K
I am recommending that Metro DC DSA members vote ‘YES’ on rescinding our DSA chapter’s endorsement of Brandy Brooks. This recommendation is based on what I view as an abandonment of our values by Brandy over the course of her campaign, to a point where our chapter can no longer in good conscience support her candidacy for the Montgomery County Council.
My rationale for recommending that we vote to rescind Brandy’s endorsement is below:
Brandy sexually harassed a member of her campaign staff, the details of which were shared by the Metro DC DSA Steering Committee on April 13 and confirmed in reporting by the Washington Post on April 15 (https://wapo.st/3Ones2z);
In a statement released by the Metro DC DSA Steering Committee on April 14, the Committee reported that members met with Brandy about the sexual harassment allegations on April 12. According to the Steering Committee, during that meeting, Brandy did not deny any allegations about sexual harassment between her and a campaign staff member; and
In a special all-chapter meeting on April 14 to discuss rescinding our endorsement of Brandy, meeting attendees with deep knowledge of the situation detailed how the failure of Brandy to fully account for the harm she caused had further resulted in a hostile working environment for other campaign staff.
For me, and I’m sure others in Metro DC DSA as well, the news of Brandy’s conduct in this situation was extremely shocking and disappointing. As one of the chapter’s electoral leaders in 2018, I helped lead our chapter’s endorsement and later our canvassing operation for Brandy’s previous campaign for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council. I also pushed for our chapter to endorse Brandy again for the same seat in the current election cycle. I’ve supported Brandy over the last four years because I trusted her to act and govern in a way that would uplift the working class not just of Montgomery County, Maryland, but of the entire Metro DC region as a whole. I now understand that my trust was misplaced.
I will also note that, in this case, I view the vote on rescinding Brandy’s endorsement as only the first step in our chapter’s accountability process. Candidates are neither entitled to receive our endorsement nor are they entitled to keep our endorsement. As such, this vote is a way for us as members of Metro DC DSA to decide on our political orientation toward Brandy in her role as a candidate for public office. Put another way, members of our chapter are asking, “Knowing what we know now, should we retain our endorsement of Brandy’s campaign?” My understanding is that, following this vote, the chapter’s Steering Committee will also begin a process to determine whether Brandy, in her role as a chapter member, violated our chapter’s harassment and grievance policy (https://bit.ly/3rFwbbI) and/or code of conduct. I truly hope that, whatever the result of either accountability process, we can move forward from this incident in a way that acknowledges harm caused and is restorative for all.
IN FAVOR from Mike H.
I am deeply angered and saddened by the revelation that Brandy Brooks engaged in persistent sexual harassment against an employee, and then acted to undermine the agreed upon mediation process. What she did is unconscionable for any number of reasons, and incompatible with our values, both personal and political. Every worker has a right to a safe working environment, and we cannot continue to support a candidate who created an unsafe environment for her own campaign staff. I say this as someone who has spent countless hours knocking doors for Brandy, both this year and in 2018: I cannot in good conscience devote any more of my time and energy to electing her, and we can’t ask any of our members to do so either. I will be voting IN FAVOR of rescinding our endorsement of Brandy Brooks, and I urge everyone to do the same.
IN FAVOR from Olivia D.
I am writing in support of the resolution to revoke Metro DC DSA’s endorsement of Brandy Brooks. I am a member of the Political Engagement Committee, Montgomery County Branch, and Electoral Working Group and I am deeply saddened by the news of the allegations that Brandy had harassed an employee. I have worked in politics as an employee and volunteer and have sadly seen workplace harassment and exploitation occur far too frequently—it is a pervasive pattern indicative of an oppressive culture that we all must work actively to dismantle. My strongest sympathies are with the aggrieved and I believe that as an organization, we have the responsibility to lead and set the example that any harassment or inappropriate behavior conducted by a candidate for office or current elected official cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. By revoking our endorsement, I believe we would send a strong moral and ethical message about what standards we hold our leaders and community members to.
IN FAVOR from Irene K.
My name is Irene Koo, and I am a co-sponsor of the resolution to rescind our chapter’s endorsement of Brandy Brooks. I have been a chapter member since 2018; I am a former Steering member and served three terms on the committee, one of which was as the chapter chair. I also served as the former chair of our Political Engagement Committee, helping formalize our chapter’s endorsement process, develop endorsement criteria, and author our electoral strategy.
I share these experiences to underscore that I have been involved in our chapter’s electoral organizing for years and am proud beyond measure of what our members have been able to achieve. Electing socialists to office across our region has meant keeping tens of thousands of additional families housed and safe from eviction during a deadly pandemic; raising taxes on the wealthy to fund early child care, housing vouchers, and monthly basic income for low-income families; banning private ICE detention centers across the state of Maryland; and passing a bill to hold police accountable. Running a successful electoral campaign is no small undertaking, but we do it and give up our weekends for six or more months out of the year because these struggles matter and have material consequences. It is because I believe in this work so deeply that I believe we have a moral responsibility to unendorse when a candidate’s actions cause significant interpersonal harm.
I believe the aggrieved party and trust the Steering Committee’s assessment that the sexual harassment allegations are credible and supported by evidence. I was especially disgusted to see Brandy subsequently admit to wrongdoing in the Washington Post but wield the language of “healing” and “restorative justice” in a way that patently betrays both. As someone who previously experienced repeated sexual harassment in my workplace over the course of several months, I can attest that it is a devastating breach of trust and physically and emotionally debilitating. There is absolutely no excusing this behavior, and I could not remain part of an organization that does not take the safety of our members seriously.
Brandy’s actions and continued efforts to evade accountability make it impossible for me to support her campaign at all, much less DSA’s involvement. I do not have any confidence that someone who engages in repeated inappropriate behavior, retaliation, and deflection behind closed doors would act differently if given a position of power. Our other endorsed candidates are strong champions of our movement and deserve our full support in this final stretch before the primaries. Like many in our chapter, I know Brandy personally and had always admired and believed in her. I am only sorry that so many of our members devoted their time, money, and energy to a candidate who, through her actions alone, has made that work worthless. I hope that following her period of reflection, Brandy is able to take responsibility for wrongdoing, seriously engage in the appropriate accountability measures, and end her campaign. Please vote yes on this resolution.
IN FAVOR from Richard R
Solidarity means that an injury to one is an injury to all. By our action here today, our Chapter says we believe in worker solidarity. We believe in it not just when it is politically convenient. We believe in it even when it means the waste of the investments we made of our time, our shoe leather, our treasure and our good name. We show we stand with workers in good times and in rainy days. We show our capacity to suffer and the high value we place on the integrity of our values. For that, I am so proud of this Chapter.
IN FAVOR from Rachel B
I strongly support Resolution 2022-04-GR01 to rescind Metro DC DSA’s endorsement of the Brandy Brooks campaign for Montgomery County Council. Brandy Brooks admitted to the credible allegations that she sexually harassed a member of her staff, both to her staff and in a story published in The Washington Post. It has become apparent that she has not meaningfully taken accountability for her misconduct, even after she engaged in an internal campaign mediation process with the staff member. Our chapter cannot morally continue to endorse and support the Brandy Brooks campaign after she has failed to take accountability for engaging in manipulative behavior and sexual harassment of a staff member, and ultimately abusing her power as an employer. She has demonstrated that she is not fit to run her campaign and hold elected office. Particularly troubling is that Brandy has stated that she herself is committed to centering healing (she was formerly a co-Director of the Political Healers Project), yet she has not taken adequate steps to engage in a healing process for the harm she has caused her former staff member. Instead, she has made misleading comments about the sexual harassment she engaged in and continued her campaign. I hope all members will vote in favor of this Resolution.
IN FAVOR from Carl R
I would highly encourage all members of Metro DC DSA to vote YES to unendorse Brandy Brooks. I have also cosponsored the resolution, and I voted yes to both the Steering Committee’s as well as the Political Engagement Committee’s recommendations to unendorse in my capacity on those bodies. I still think it is important I write my own recommendation to unendorse. Metro DC DSA’s endorsements mean something. Some organizations endorse broadly; we have chosen not to, precisely because our endorsements indicate that our members will be heavily involved in fighting for the candidate. I know that this is the case in Montgomery County, having sat in for multiple calls of their Electoral Working Group and watched the hard effort they are undertaking to win three races. I have played my small role in it, too, canvassing there, cutting the turfs needed to knock doors effectively, and donating to our PAC. I have also watched our MoCo comrades go through this undeniably tough time with poise, righteous indignation, and most importantly, a strongly socialist moral compass. If I had no knowledge of the situation, I would implicitly trust their recommendation to unendorse. The decision to endorse or unendorse is one that we, as a chapter, take together. There is no provision in our bylaws for any other method. This is key to our internal democracy—as described above, our endorsements mean something. I am proud that we have chosen to organize ourselves this way. It means that our endorsements also indicate broad buy in, across the chapter, for our candidates. I would hope that, given Brandy’s own admittance of persistent workplace sexual harassment, our chapter will make the correct call.
IN FAVOR from Aparna R
My name is Aparna R, I’m a member of the Steering Committee, and I’m a member of the DC Electoral Working Group. Back in December 2021, I voted to endorse Brandy Brooks’ campaign, and I’m writing this statement now as a co-sponsor of this resolution to ask members to vote ‘YES’ to revoke our chapter’s endorsement of the Brooks campaign. Most of my thoughts are already captured in the Steering Committee statement, and I agree fully with the PEC statement. There is no longer any debate about whether or not Brandy Brooks committed sexual harassment against one of her campaign employees and retaliated against them when they did not reciprocate. We have the aggrieved party’s firsthand account, we have a corroborating account from a coworker who spoke at our public Steering meeting on Thursday, April 14, and there are corroborating text messages. But the biggest piece of public corroborating evidence that we have is this Washington Post article from Friday, April 15th, in which Brandy Brooks herself admits both to multiple instances of sexual harassment and to the subsequent deterioriation of her professional relationship with the aggrieved party after they turned down her advances, including her rescinding a job offer. As has been mentioned before, no candidate is entitled to a chapter endorsement. Part of what we consider for an endorsement is whether we believe that a candidate will live out our values if elected to office and when we do endorse, it’s a commitment that we will dedicate our resources to helping that candidate get elected. Because of that, very few campaigns end up getting endorsed each cycle. Everything that we’ve heard publicly about the Brandy Brooks campaign points to an environment where worker safety is threatened and accountability is not taken seriously. These actions have broken the trust that I and others in the chapter held with her, and makes me feel as though she is unfit to be an employer, whether on the campaign cycle or in public office. I can fully say that if something like this came up in the endorsement cycle while we were considering candidates, I would have easily voted no on an endorsement and I think most of us in the chapter would have done the same. For that same reason, I think the clear choice here is to revoke our endorsement. Separate from this endorsement process, the Steering Committee has indicated that we will begin a Code of Conduct investigation to provide additional opportunities to hear from the aggrieved and Brandy, to gather evidence, and to pursue what accountability and mediation can look like in this situation. With the vote to revoke our endorsement, what we need to decide now is how we feel about actively committing resources to a candidate who has publicly admitted to sexual harassment and retaliation. I think the only morally clear option here is to vote “YES” on revoking our endorsement.
IN FAVOR from Abel A.
I am a member of the Steering Committee and also chair of the Political Engagement Committee (PEC). I encourage you to read the PEC’s recommendation on this resolution. I have served on the PEC for nearly a year and was involved in the process that led to Brandy Brooks’s endorsement. I contributed to the recommendation the PEC published supporting her endorsement at the December 2021 Local Convention and voted in favor of her endorsement. For the past few months, I have helped plan canvasses for her and participated in them including by knocking on hundreds of doors.
I urge comrades to vote in favor of this resolution to revoke Brandy’s endorsement by our chapter. I do this with a heavy heart knowing that our movement has been set back a step. However, I fully believe that this decision is the only moral one open to us. Brandy no longer has the confidence of the membership. As we wrote in the PEC recommendation, “we can no longer in good conscience confidently vouch for her good character and propriety as an employer and elected official.” As others have written in statements above, there may come a time with proactive action from Brandy that she may regain the trust of the chapter. However, as it currently stands, with Brandy twisting the language of abolition to escape accountability and protect her campaign, we can’t allow our endorsement to stand.