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Progressive Caucus PAC staffer accused of harassment is out of group

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel logo Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 7/16/2019 Mary Spicuzza
a man sitting at a table © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc.

A staffer for the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC who faced accusations of sexual harassment, inappropriate language and other abusive behavior has left the group.

David Keith served as political director for the PAC, which recruits liberal candidates for the House of Representatives.

"He is no longer employed at the Progressive Caucus," U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said when asked about Keith during a call with reporters about his recent visit to a migrant children’s shelter in Florida.

a man sitting at a table: David Keith shown during a discussion at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where Ketih was a student. © Buck Lewis/Vassar College David Keith shown during a discussion at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where Ketih was a student.

Pocan, a powerful Madison Democrat, is a co-chairman of the group.

Keith previously served as the campaign manager for Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, a union ironworker known as "Iron Stache" who ran for the southeastern Wisconsin congressional seat held by former House Speaker Paul Ryan. Bryce lost to now-U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Janesville Republican.

Keith was hired by the PAC in March to oversee 2020 strategy and candidate recruitment.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last month that the Progressive Caucus PAC had hired a human resources firm to investigate concerns about Keith.

Seven sources, including some former Bryce staffers, told the Journal Sentinel that Keith routinely made inappropriate sexual comments to and about female staffers and volunteers, used crude language and had angry outbursts — at times yelling and throwing things at his subordinates. 

In one incident last year, sources said Keith screamed at staff and threw a water bottle during a meeting after learning some campaign workers left before 9 p.m., which is the time Bryce campaign staffers were required to stay to make fundraising calls. 

Keith also frequently used crude and derogatory words to describe women and gay people, and threatened to punish staff who didn't obey his orders, sources said. Several recalled him telling them, "If you cross me, I'll destroy your career."

Multiple sources, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution, said they had recently been contacted by the human resources firm hired by the PAC to investigate concerns about Keith.

Keith's lawyer last month told the Journal Sentinel that he disputes the accusations.

"David Keith absolutely denies the allegations, which appear to come from political consultants with scores to settle," New York-based attorney Lesley Brovner said. "He will not allow this to distract him from continuing to work to elect Democratic candidates."

Contact Mary Spicuzza at (414) 224-2324 or mary.spicuzza@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MSpicuzzaMJS or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mary.spicuzza.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Progressive Caucus PAC staffer accused of harassment is out of group

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