Tag Archives: Brandy Brooks

Brooks Fails Her Own Test

County County Candidate Brandy Brooks sent a blast email an hour ago entitled “A Test of Leadership” that’ says she stands for “Leadership that is accountable, transparent, and committed to equity and justice. I also believe that the test of leadership isn’t what a leader does when things are easy, but what she does when the going gets hard, amid challenges, conflict, and stress.”

Yet neither this email nor a linked longer explanation mentions what she did or how she has been held accountable in any meaningful way. It describes a process run by her campaign manager but omits that Michelle Whittaker is her sister. Imagine what Brooks would say if a political opponent delegated handling an incident like this to a relative?

Even as she touts her transparency, Brooks explains that she asked her endorsing partners for confidentiality. She never mentions harassment let alone the sexual harassment described in the Washington Post.

Rather than taking ownership of the problem and taking decisive action, she went away for two weeks for self-care and “intensive reflection” which juxtaposes uneasily with her claims of “organizing” to promote “equity” and staying in the race for her volunteers and supporters. Disappearing for two weeks when the “going gets hard” isn’t the best advertisement for her leadership skills.

Even more strangely, despite writing about preparing some sort of statement of acknowledging wrongdoing during her two weeks of reflection, there has been no public statement of accountability on her part. All she says is that the employee complained of a “hostile work environment” but never owns it.

Instead of transparency and accountability, her email is a ultimately a whinge that essentially says “I tried” and then attempts to transform Brooks into a victim of her endorsers who didn’t keep quiet and her victim for supposedly pulling out of the mediated agreement and speaking out.

Brooks did remember to include a “Donate” button in her email.

Share

DSA Revokes Brooks Endorsement

Yesterday, Metro-DC Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) revoked their endorsement of Brandy Brooks for the Montgomery County Council:

Regardless of whether Metro DC-DSA’s politics are yours, they deserve credit for not having situational ethics. The Brooks campaign continues to tout the original endorsement on their website.

When Brooks made the issue public on Twitter, she announced that she was taking a two-week period “to care for myself and to reflect with my trusted advisors.” While the episode is undoubtedly extremely stressful for Brooks, this approach put the focus on caring for herself rather than the victim. It also showed an inability to act decisively and transparently to address even an office crisis.

Though set to resume her campaign, Brooks still hasn’t explained the accusations of sexual harassment. Even as she partially acknowledged that she acted inappropriately, Brooks has attacked her accuser for supposably violating a mediation agreement. She also said statements like those from DSA as “an attempt to destroy my work and my reputation” and trying to “defame” her.

In short, Brooks is neither able to flatly deny the allegations nor take responsibility in a way that closes the issue. More organizations are considering revoking endorsements. Brooks is now hemorrhaging core supporters even as she relaunches her campaign with less staff and little money.

Share

Afternoon Update: No D18 Poll & Brooks Campaign

Rubin Mistaken on Poll

Town of Chevy Chase Councilmember Joel Rubin, one of the candidates for the vacant delegate nomination sent out an email today regarding tonight’s candidate forum and tomorrow’s MCDCC vote. He’s asking voters to attend to the forum tonight because there will be a “public poll” of District 18 voters after the forum:

Here’s My Request: It would be outstanding if you could attend the Candidates Forum tonight, as there will be a public poll taking place after it for District 18 voters. Your participation and support for me after the forum will go a long way towards strengthening my candidacy on Tuesday night at MCDCC election time.

To show support for me, after the Candidates Forum ends at 7:25pm – but only if you’re a District 18 voter – please email the MCDCC at “office@mcdcc.org” by no later than 11:59pm tonight (Monday 4/18) with your support.

MCDCC Chair Arthur Edmunds and District 18 Democratic Caucus Chair Laura Johnson have separately confirmed that neither MCDCC nor the D18 Caucus will be conducting a poll after the candidate forum. MCDCC has helped publicize the forum but it is being conducted independently by the D18 Caucus.

UPDATE: Joel Rubin contacted me after the publication of this post. He explained that he wrote the email based on the following language that was included in the D18 Caucus forum invitation:

Following the candidate forum, District 18 Democratic voters are urged to forward an email of support for their preferred candidate to: Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. office@mcdcc.org, preferably no later than 11:59 pm, Monday, April 18, 2022.

Brooks Laying Off Staff

I have heard that Brandy Brooks’s campaign for an at-large Montgomery County Council seat is laying off field staff. It’s unclear whether this is temporary while Brooks is taking two weeks away from the campaign for self-care and to reflect after allegations that she created a hostile work environment. Lack of funds might also explain the layoffs.  

Share

Hucker Withdraws from Exec Race, Files for Council

Councilmember Tom Hucker (D-5) has withdrawn from the county executive race. It’s a sensible decision as it would’ve almost certainly been a losing battle. He’s filed for the county council. But not for his old seat. Instead, as I speculated this morning, he has filed for an at-large seat.

The next question is whether or how soon MCEA, the influential teachers’ union, will flip its endorsement from Brandy Brooks’s flailing campaign to Hucker—or possibly to Council President Gabe Albornoz, who seems a lock for reelection.

Share

Metro DC DSA Condemns Brooks, Will Vote on Revoking Endorsement

Metro DC DSA issued a statement after meeting with embattled at-large Montgomery County Council Candidate Brandy Brooks. Their claims are damning: “At no point did she deny the allegations against her” and “we’re disappointed to see her twist the language of abolition and restorative justice to try to deflect from her actions.”

The DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) are a left-wing organization that has been closely aligned with and highly supportive of Brooks. Here is their complete statement:

Share

Fallout Continues from Brooks Campaign

Yesterday, at-large County Council Candidate Brandy Brooks announced that she is “taking a period of two weeks to care for myself and reflecting” in the wake of a “report of a hostile workplace environment caused by me.” Brooks says that “a mediated agreement was developed and the terms of that agreement executed.”

While stating that she seeks “to be as transparent as possible” and decrying “increasingly inaccurate and malicious reports,” Brooks’s campaign has not disclosed more information about the matter.

Campaign Manager Michelle Whittaker let me know via email that she disagreed with my post stating that Brooks “has suspended her campaign.”

I guess Whittaker can say that taking two weeks off is “taking a brief break” rather than “suspending her campaign.” In Dave, a comedy from back in 1993, the White House claimed that the president had “suffered what doctors describe as a minor circulatory problem of the head” after a major stroke. But engaging in self-care and reflecting doesn’t sound like an active campaign. It’s hard to imagine others will be working hard on it when the candidate and campaign manager aren’t.

When asked about the hostile work environment claim, Whittaker explained that: “I cannot add further comment about that at this time. If you have a question about the campaign operations, I may be able to provide more information.”

Funding Problems

The campaign has been plagued by rumors regarding its high burn rate—campaign argot for spending money fast—and that it doesn’t have enough left for printing and sending campaign mailers and other forms of voter contact as the primary approaches.

Brooks’s most recent campaign finance filing, filed on February 15, reported $55,227.76 in the bank—significantly below what is normally needed for a viable countywide campaign. Nothing in the media, printing or postage sections of either the January or February filings indicate that the Brooks campaign has prepaid for mailers or much other media. She reported spending a total of $1,803.21 on Facebook ads.

According to these two most recent filings, 61% of $47,178.07 in expenditures were on salaries and other compensation. Payments to MCW Creative, Michelle Whittaker’s company accounted for $7,550.00, or 16%, of the total spent on salaries and other compensation. Besides being Brooks’s campaign manager and a communications professional, Whittaker is also her sister.

Here are the screenshots from the reports:

Whittaker did not respond last night to questions on the total amount paid to her or the cash-on-hand available to the campaign.

Share

Brandy Brooks Suspends Campaign

In shocking news, at-large Democratic candidate Brandy Brooks has suspended her campaign due to an internal claim that she has created “a hostile workplace environment.” Here is a copy of Brooks’s post explaining why from her Twitter feed:

Jews United for Justice has already suspended its support in response:

I imagine that Brooks suspended rather than ended her campaign for the same reason as presidential campaigns: money. If she ends her campaign, it has implications for the public funds that she has received or will receive under Montgomery County’s public financing law.

Brooks could reenter the campaign after her “two weeks to care for myself and reflect” but political campaigns aren’t monasteries that provide time for introspective contemplation. Taking two hours off is a luxury. Announcing that there was a an accusation, let alone an executed “mediated agreement”, means it is very serious.

Supporters will go elsewhere.

Share

MCEA Issues Council Endorsements

The influential Montgomery County Education Association, the teachers union, has issued its endorsements for the Montgomery County Council. I’ve put the non-incumbents in italics below:

District 1: Andrew Friedson
District 2: Will Roberts
District 3: Sidney Katz
District 4: Kate Stewart
District 5: Fatmata Barrie
District 6: Natali Fani-Gonzalez
District 7: Dawn Luedtke
At-Large: Brandy Brooks, Evan Glass, Laurie-Anne Sayles, Will Jawando

Interestingly, they have chosen not to endorse Council President Gabe Albornoz. This one puzzles me because unions normally endorse well-liked councilmembers who are likely to win even if they have some policy disagreements to avoid alienating them.

MCEA has also placed bets in several hotly contested open seats, including Rep. Raskin’s former Legislative Director Will Roberts in District 2, Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart in District 4, Immigration Attorney Fatmata Barrie in District 5, former Planning Board Member Natali Fani-Gonzalez in District 6, and Attorney Dawn Luedtke in District 7.

Five of their eleven endorsements went to African American candidates: Will Roberts, Fatmata Barrie, Brandy Brooks, Laurie-Anne Sayles and Will Jawando. Three have gone to Jewish candidates: Andrew Friedson, Sidney Katz and Evan Glass–all are incumbents. Glass is also the first openly gay councilmember. Natali Fani-Gonzalez is the sole Latina or Latino endorsed. (Correction: I’ve now learned that Brandy Brooks is Afro-Latina.) A majority of endorsements went to women (6 of 11).

(By the way, the Maryland State Board of Elections website appears a little screwed up and not listing candidates properly. Today, it is showing only five districts and candidates not necessarily listed where they are running as far as I can tell.)

Share

Waldstreicher Challenger Gets Prominent Grassroots Support

Max Socol is running as a progressive challenger to incumbent Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher who is seeking reelection to the Maryland Senate after having also served three terms in the House of Delegates. That Socol is holding a fundraiser is hardly news.

The names on the invitation, however, grabbed my attention. All are well known in Montgomery County politics. Many are exactly the sort of people you’d think would be supporting an incumbent who touts himself as a “proud progressive” and “champion for justice” but are instead lined up squarely behind his challenger.

Former Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez, who served with Waldstreicher for three terms in the House and ran on a ticket with him twice (!) is now working to defeat her former slate-mate. Always an alliance of convenience, I can’t say I find this shocking.

Brandy Brooks is making her second bid for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council. Like Socol, she is positioning herself as a progressive activist outsider. Brooks is considered one of the leading candidates in her own race.

Michelle Whittaker is a communications and campaign strategist. She is the former Communications Manager for Manna Foods and the former Director of Communications for FairVote among other organizations. She has testified for removing police officers from public schools and ranked choice voting. (She is also Brandy Brooks’s sister.)

Fran Rothstein, Diana Conway and Beth Tomasello are Past Presidents of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County. An informant tells me Conway has previously hosted an event for Waldstreicher. An environmentalist, Conway has been very active in the fight against synthetic turf playing fields. Tomasello is an attorney who has advocated on criminal justice reform.

Laura Stewart is currently the First Vice President of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County but probably better known as a PTA leader, an active supporter of County Executive Marc Elrich in 2018 and many other progressive causes.

Zola Shaw serves on Montgomery County’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee and is a member of the Board of the Montgomery County Chapter of Our Revolution Maryland. Michael Tardif was named Democrat of the Year by the Montgomery County Democratic Party in 2021.

Bottom Line

Whether Socol can build the coalition and the campaign needed to unseat Waldstreicher, a reelection-focused incumbent if there ever was one, remains to be seen. But the early strength indicates that Waldstreicher hasn’t nailed down his base even after sixteen year in the General Assembly.

Share

Top Seventh State Stories, February 2021

By Adam Pagnucco.

These were the top stories on Seventh State in February ranked by page views.

1. Raskin Chief of Staff Writes About Attack on the Capitol
2. MoCo Solar Power Company Throws in the Towel
3. Is MoCo Ready to Reimagine the Police?
4. Once Again, Who’s the Boss?
5. State Legislators to Hogan: Send MoCo More Vaccines
6. Brandy’s Bonkers Bucks
7. What Climate Emergency?
8. Brandy Brooks is Back
9. Barve Warns Council on Solar
10. What Happened to White Flint?

The post about the Capitol insurrection by Julie Tagen, who is Congressman Jamie Raskin’s Chief of Staff, is the first one to lead our list two months in a row. After a strong run in January, this article took off again starting February 9 when Raskin told this story to the U.S. Senate in his opening argument at the impeachment trial. It remains one of the most riveting items we have ever posted on Seventh State.

The article about White Flint is the first item to appear on our list three months in a row. This one won’t go away. It’s about more than politics; it’s about whether our county can build appealing new communities that can compete with the rest of the region. There is a real hunger for that in MoCo and it will resume prominence after the COVID pandemic winds down.

Then there are the stories about solar in the agricultural reserve. They reveal a split not just among politicians but also inside the county’s environmental community. Some see environmentalism as concerned with the preservation of nature. Others see environmentalism’s biggest priority as preventing climate change from making Earth inhospitable to humans. Both sides are right, of course, but in the case of solar in the ag reserve, their short-term prescriptions for action were at odds. This is not the first sign of an enviro split in MoCo. The Sierra Club’s endorsement of Roger Berliner over Marc Elrich in the 2018 county executive primary was extremely controversial. We may be headed for more internal conflicts in the environmental community in the future.

Share