Last week, Boston DSA received a letter from multiple former staffers alleging serious misconduct and abuse towards her staff by Ihssane Leckey. We believe these allegations are credible enough that they require a substantive response from the Leckey campaign. As a socialist organization, we have the obligation to treat workers’ allegations of maltreatment and exploitation by an employer as a serious matter. We expect that candidates we endorse will be accountable for the treatment of their campaign staff and volunteers as well as their political positions.
Boston DSA candidate endorsements are done with debate and by a 60% vote of the membership, not by decision of the Coordinating Committee. The general membership is the highest decision-making body of the chapter, and the CC cannot overrule the original endorsement vote. As the chapter’s political and administrative leadership, the CC felt that our members should hear the allegations and any response from the campaign and provide a forum to decide how to move forward, including whether the chapter should rescind its endorsement. The CC made no decision or recommendation on rescinding the endorsement or evaluation of the truth of the claims in the letter at the time, we concluded only that the membership had the right to evaluate the claims and make a decision.
The Leckey campaign has criticized us for sharing the unedited letter with our members to consider. We did this in adherence to our democratic principles. A different political organization might be inclined to ignore these grievances for the sake of political convenience. We are a democratic, member-run organization and we are accountable only to working people. Labor issues are central to our political work.
As chapter leadership, we are disappointed that the Leckey campaign responded by smearing the former staffers as sexist and anti-immigrant for raising legitimate labor grievances, and for attacking the idea of hearing them out instead of responding to the allegations. While Leckey’s concerns about diversity and inclusion in DSA are real issues to be taken seriously, here, they deflect from the harassment, abuse, and labor grievances at hand. Marginalized people face huge obstacles to acquiring wealth and power, but once they have it, we hold them to the same high standards of labor practices and anti-harassment. We trust our membership to closely examine how racist and sexist tropes and power structures can affect our judgments, perceptions, and conclusions; however, we do not believe that this extends to dismissing labor complaints out of hand. We also believe that taking worker accusations of abusive behavior from employers and insensitivity around sexual assault disclosure seriously is within the spirit of our Anti-Harassment and Inclusion priority.
Now, even though the Leckey campaign has rejected our endorsement, the chapter will still be debating and voting on an official rescission on Saturday, and we trust our membership to consider the claims made in the letter and any additional information raised in the course of debate in good faith. However, because of the events of the past few days, the CC believes that Ihssane Leckey’s refusal to engage with these serious allegations of mistreatment is itself reason enough for the chapter to rescind its endorsement. The Coordinating Committee now therefore recommends that comrades vote to un-endorse.