Empower Wisconsin | March 4, 2020
By M.D. Kittle and Josh Waldoch
MADISON — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ campaign received a generous donation late last year from Adam Alonso, former chief of staff for the Democratic National Convention host committee — just weeks before Alonso was publicly accused of creating a “toxic work environment.”
Barnes’ campaign took in $4,000 from Alonso on Nov. 24, according to state campaign finance records.
Alonso and Liz Gilbert, president of the host committee, were fired early last month, less than six months before the Democratic Party is set to hold its presidential nominating convention in Milwaukee.
Sources told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Alonso and Gilbert had created a hostile work environment that included “power struggles, backbiting and mismanagement.” Host committee staffers in a letter claimed Alonso “bullied and intimidated” female staff members in particular.
“Every employee has a right to feel respected in their workplace. Based on the information we have learned to date, we believe the work environment did not meet the ideals and expectations of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee Board of Directors,” the host committee’s board said in a statement. “Accordingly, Liz Gilbert and Adam Alonso are no longer employed by the organization, effective immediately.”
Barnes’ campaign did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment on Tuesday. Alonso could not be reached for comment. It is not known whether Barnes returned the donation. But his Democratic political colleagues certainly were quick to call for thorough investigations into the host committee and its fired leaders.
“If the allegations are strong, we need to take them seriously,” said Gov. Tony Evers.
“I don’t believe it’s going to have an impact, the convention is going to happen and we’re going to get it off the ground in a good way. But I’m really happy we’re doing an investigation.”
“These are serious concerns that demand a serious investigation,” Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) told media outlets. “Everyone working to make this convention a success deserves a leadership team of unquestioned integrity.”
It was crickets from Barnes, though, who is often the first to lash out against perceived injustices.
The lieutenant governor’s campaign took in nearly $58,000 in the last six months of last year.
Alonso’s $4,000 check was one of the largest donations Barnes’ campaign pulled in. Milwaukee County Executive and liberal sugar daddy Chris Abele cut Barnes a $20,000 check in September, and Kyle Weatherly, CEO of Milwaukee-based Frontdesk, gave the campaign $5,000 in October.
Frontdesk bills itself as a provider of “securely-managed, short-term stays at the best apartments in the best cities.” Companies like Frontdesk, of course, stand to make a lot of money in July, when tens of thousands of Democrats and members of the media descend on Milwaukee for the DNC.