Democrats often accuse Republicans of attempting to suppress the votes of American minorities. If the GOP pushes for voter ID laws, the Democrats shout “suppression!” If Republicans dare push for laws to stop election fraud — “suppression!”
On and on it goes.
But over the weekend the tables turned in Florida. Now the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is facing accusations of “suppressing the Hispanic vote” in the Sunshine State.
And accusations are coming from Democrats. Not just any Democrats — but Democratic field organizers. Nearly 100 of them.
What’s that now?
A group of 94 party activists sent a seven-page internal letter to the Florida Democratic Party leadership Friday, alleging that the Biden campaign is “suppressing the Hispanic vote” in Central Florida, according to the the Miami Herald, which obtained a copy of the missive.
With just over three months to go before the presidential election, allegations of “mistreatment of field organizers, relocating trained staff members without explanation, lack of organizing resources and taking on volunteers who are then left in limbo” is not something the party or the campaign likely wants the public to hear about.
The Herald reported that the organizers claim the campaign is perpetuating a “toxic” work culture and is lacking vital infrastructure.
One of the recent party moves at issue, according to the letter, is the decision by the FDP to transfer several Spanish-speaking organizers from a region in the central part of the state that is heavily Puerto Rican to the northern region with few Hispanics.
The letter also said that input from organizers connected to Central Florida’s Puerto Rican community is often dismissed, the Herald said.
“Four of five Spanish-speaking organizers along the I-4 corridor who were moved to North Florida were Puerto Rican,” the letter stated, according to the Herald.
Apparently, the campaign “is suppressing the Hispanic vote by removing Spanish-speaking organizers from Central Florida without explanation, which fails to confront a system of white-dominated politics we are supposed to be working against as organizers of a progressive party,” the newspaper reported.
Worries about Democrats and the state’s Hispanic vote is reportedly not a new concern of Florida Democrats. The Herald said the letter reflects similar concerns that Florida Democratic County chairmen shared with party leaders days before when they warned that the Biden campaign risks making the same mistakes Hillary Clinton’s campaign made in 2016.
The letter writers are also annoyed with the way the party has reacted to those who would bring up the concerns and noted that there does not seem to be an adequate plan in place. More from the Herald:
Organizers say in the memo that while they have expressed frustration with the campaign’s missteps in Florida, some staff members have been “lectured” as a result, and their concerns dismissed as “unnecessary and wrong.” And the signatories stress that while some employees have been brought from out of state to supervise field staffers, the state party’s field organizers have not been given priority.
“We are roughly 100 days out from the election, and there is no functional targeted field outreach and organizing of the Hispanic/Spanish-speaking, Brazilian/Portuguese-speaking, and Haitian/Creole-speaking communities in our state,” the letter states. “There are no targets, scripts, data infrastructure, community outreach, or phonebanks established for this.”
One anonymous organizer warned the state party in a statement to the Herald: “The way you treat your lowest ranked employees says a lot about you as an organization … especially in electoral work, when organizers are the ones on the front lines.”
Another anonymous Democratic staffer told the paper: “It’s disappointing, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. I just hope that it will be reckoned with soon.”
Just a union thing?
Democratic Party officials in Florida told the Herald this is all connected to ongoing negotiations with the organizers’ union:
A Democratic official familiar with internal discussions who asked not to be named said the letter comes amid negotiations between the Coordinated Campaign in Florida and the field organizers’ union, the IBEW Local 824.
The official said organizers have not been updated on their individual assignments due to the ongoing union negotiations, which predate the letter.
Jackie Lee, Biden for President Florida state director, said in a statement the campaign has an “open-door policy” and its leadership in Florida is consulting with IBEW Local 824 on “many of the issues” discussed in the letter.
Hoping to tamp down the bad press on the newest complaint against the Biden campaign, Lee added, “We look forward to discussing them with organizers and getting their feedback as soon as able. The stakes of this election are critical, and we are committed to working with our organizers and Florida Democrats at every level in order to build a strong, successful Coordinated Campaign.”
She also said that the complaint in the letter about moving staff appears unwarranted, telling the Herald that over the last six weeks “no staff are asked to move or relocate, either from out of state or within states.”