DFL Allegedly Lied to Former Employee About Investigating Sexual Harassment Allegations

A former Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party volunteer recently alleged that he was sexually harassed by two former coworkers, but was apparently lied to and misled when he brought the allegations to the party’s chairman.

Christopher Horoshak claims that he was sexually harassed by two DFL employees during the run-up to the 2016 election, and later reported the allegations to DFL Chairman Ken Martin in January 2017.

According to May 2018 emails released by Horoshak, Martin acknowledged that Horoshak “told me about these issues a couple of months ago,” but “will need to file a formal complaint with the DFL to initiate an investigation.”

“As soon as he files a formal complaint, you have my assurances that these allegations will be investigated thoroughly. The form to file a formal complaint can be found on our website at DFL.org,” Martin wrote in an email to attorney Richard Painter.

Painter, however, claims that the “form doesn’t exist,” and indeed no such form is anywhere to be found on the DFL’s website.

“We take these issues seriously and have a zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment, however we have a process which requires the complaint being filed before we can move forward,” Martin insisted in his email to Painter.

According to Horoshak, he sent a “detailed email” of his harassment to the DFL in 2016 and “reported” it “many times” while it “happened as a paid employee of the DFL.”

But Horoshak and Painter both claim that “there was no formal investigation,” and Painter even suggested that “Martin has also lied about there being an investigation in his public statement” in which Martin suggests that the “DFL investigated and took appropriate action.”

“Due to the seasonal nature of campaign work, these individuals were no longer employed by the Minnesota DFL in January 2017 when the allegations were first brought to our attention. That limited our options, but we identified and implemented the appropriate steps we could take, including placing a letter in the permanent personnel files at the state party,” Martin said in his statement.

The statement goes on to note that the DFL has instituted a “zero-tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination,” requires employees to take a “mandatory sexual harassment, discrimination, and implicit bias training,” and created an “internal task force” spearheaded by Martin.

“Again, I want to personally thank Christopher for his bravery in sharing his story. It’s exactly this kind of courage that will help lead to the systemic change we need,” Martin concluded.

The DFL is now dealing with two domestic-abuse allegations against Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-05) who is running for Minnesota attorney general. The party claims that it is investigating the matter, but hasn’t offered any updates in more than six weeks, and ignored a request for more information from The Minnesota Sun.

“It’s been weeks. This is moving far slower than the Kavanaugh investigation. DFL Party Chair Ken Martin promised an investigation but won’t reveal what is going on,” Painter said of the Ellison allegations, criticizing Martin for “running the clock.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].

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