The turmoil that has rocked Dianne Morales’s mayoral bid showed no signs of slowing down on Wednesday, just three days before early voting begins in the June 22 primary. In the latest twist after weeks of internal drama, dozens of workers on the campaign — which is in the midst of a widespread work stoppage — were let go.
Earlier in the day, Morales had issued a statement saying the campaign had reached out to the Campaign Finance Board to seek permission to pay staffers during the work stoppage while they attempted to reach a resolution. She said the board had granted them “a small window to continue to pay the staff who are engaged in the work stoppage with public funds.”
In the statement, Morales said that campaign members had declined her offer to bring in an outside mediator for their discussions and that some of their demands violated campaign-finance laws. She invoked the “possible liability” that would come from paying nonworking staffers with public funds and said their last payday will be June 9.
“I respect the matching-funds program and will not operate in possible violation of the rules that apply,” Morales said.
Morales’s troubles began after her campaign manager, Whitney Hu, abruptly resigned in late May, reportedly because of concerns regarding the mistreatment of nonwhite staffers by other members of the campaign. Ifeoma Ike, a top adviser, also left the campaign.
Hu addressed her absence in a statement saying she had officially resigned on her own accord, “after demanding that I would no longer be able to continue on the campaign until harmful actors were removed.”
A source told Politico at the time that Hu had encouraged the remaining staffers to form a union in order to address their other concerns.
Not long after Hu’s departure, Morales’s campaign staff did form a union, and the candidate herself said she would voluntarily recognize it — while also announcing the departure of two staff members due to “racially based biases and sexual-harassment claims” made against them by other staffers.
But soon after, the union announced that four of its leaders had been terminated “via email” prior to a previously planned staff meeting. They then announced a work stoppage “as a collective action in solidarity with our members, who deserve to be treated with respect.”