Former Trump staffer in Iowa accuses campaign of sex discrimination

A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump’s field campaign in Iowa was an unmitigated disaster. The campaign, per the Times, was making basic organizing errors, failing to make it easy for their supporters to caucus for Trump and, in one case, was letting a 9/11 truther talk to voters on a regular basis.

But there was one person who stood out to the Times as “a bright spot” for Trump’s Iowa operation: Elizabeth Mae Davidson. As the Times wrote:

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ms. Davidson, based in Davenport, where on Sunday she opened only the second field office in the state for Mr. Trump, is one of the campaign’s most effective organizers. She has recruited captains for nearly all of the 65 precincts in Scott County, in many cases more than one captain per precinct.

But Davenport appears to be a bright spot compared with other regions of Iowa, like rural Brooklyn, where the Trump precinct captain Clair Kuntz said he had not made any effort to contact people. “When I call, it’s not going to be any more than a week out,” he said, adding that he had yet to receive fliers describing Mr. Trump’s positions, a basic canvassing tool that campaigns provide.

Yesterday, the Times reported that Davidson had filed a legal complaint against Trump’s campaign alleging sex discrimination. And not just because Trump reportedly told her and a female volunteer that they could “do a lot of damage” because of their looks, although that’s part of the complaint. More importantly, Davidson is claiming that she was paid less than male staffers with the same title and hours, and was fired for behavior over which male staffers were not dismissed.

The same day that the original Times story was published, Davidson was fired for making “disparaging comments about senior campaign leaders to third parties” and breaking the non-disclosure agreement of her employment contract. Both of those charges are presumably related to Davidson talking to the Times for their story, which went on to describe Trump’s field operation as “amateurish and halting, committing basic organizing errors,” among other things. Field organizers and other lower-level staff are generally prohibited from talking to the press without the go-ahead from communications staff, and it’s unclear whether Trump’s campaign authorized her to speak with the Times. However, there’s no reason to believe that the Times’ description of Trump’s field operation came from Davidson. To the contrary, she is held up in the Times’ story as one of the only people on Trump’s Iowa payroll doing a good job.

Furthermore, Davidson’s complaint notes that male staffers with the same job title as her — “district representative — talked to the paper without authorization from the campaign and were allowed to keep their jobs. Those male staffers, despite holding the same title and working the same hours (all were officially classified as part-time employees since they held day jobs; Davidson is a paralegal), were paid more than her, as well. According to Trump’s FEC filings, reviewed by the Times, male district representatives in Iowa, including at least one who was also classified as a part-time employee, were being paid between $3500 and $4000 per month — up to twice Davidson’s $2000 per month salary.

And again, Davidson was one of Trump’s most effective staffers in the state. Although when the Times reached Trump for comment for yesterday’s story, that had all changed: As Trump explained, “My people tell me she did a terrible job.”

His people, it seems, may also be illegally sexist.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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8 Responses to “Former Trump staffer in Iowa accuses campaign of sex discrimination”

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  2. dcinsider says:

    Wow did not see this coming!

  3. BeccaM says:

    Yeah… reminds me of the Log Cabin Republicans who for some reason have no problem when GOP candidates spout the most homophobic and hateful anti-gay rhetoric, and for whatever reason assume that bigotry won’t ever affect them personally if their candidates are in power and begin to enact those policies.

  4. BeccaM says:

    We’re surprised the blatantly sexist and misogynistic candidate is running the same kind of campaign organization?

    The guy regularly trades in his wives for younger trophy models. His idea of complimenting a woman is to make positive remarks about her looks; his idea of criticizing a woman is to tear her down and call her fat and ugly. Of course any organization he runs is going to reflect his own values.

  5. Houndentenor says:

    I’m not saying that I approve of how Trump acts, but really did she expect anything different from him? Really?

  6. nicho says:

    File under “Lie down with dogs – get up with fleas.”

  7. gratuitous says:

    I do hope she’s not shocked that a man who regularly refers to women in highly disparaging terms would practice sex discrimination.

  8. The_Fixer says:

    Methinks that Ms. Davidson should re-think her support of Trump, no?

    My only question is: Why didn’t she see this sooner? I mean, the man has a reputation that isn’t easy to hide. Ah conservatives – it’s never a problem until it happens to them.

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