Loose Lips

Erstwhile D.C. Committeewoman Battles Political Rivals—and PEPCO

Royster: On the outs with everybody. (University of the District of Columbia)

D.C. political activist Deborah Royster has had a busy week. On Tuesday, the news broke that she was out of a job as a Democratic National Committeewoman for the District. Royster cited the competing demands of her job as deputy general counsel for Pepco Holdings.

What didn't get mentioned is that Royster is also in the middle of suing the utility over discrimination and retaliation.

The lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on September 12, alleges that Royster was passed over for a promotion because she alerted her superiors to "inappropriate and potentially unwelcome" sexual relationships between two attorneys and female administrative support staff. The attorneys were fired in 2009, and one of them sued Pepco, resulting in $1 million worth of attorneys fees for Pepco, according to the complaint. The complaint describes how a human resources executive, allegedly pissed off at Royster for her whistleblowing, picked a white guy instead of Royster for a vice president job that she considered herself in line for.

Are sexism, racism, and retaliation to blame for executive-level Pepco drama? Royster wants a jury to decide.

At the very least, the suit adds some perspective to Royster's argument that she didn't quit her Democratic post so much as request a "temporary absence due to the current demands of my employment."

That request remains the subject of considerable insidery intrigue. Royster had missed three consecutive meetings, which put her out of compliance with Democratic National Committee bylaws. But in subsequent intraparty e-mails, she claimed that she had requested a "temporary absence," and would appeal the decision to remove her. According to Royster, she could be reinstated within 30 days she was if re-certified by the D.C. Democratic State Committee.

But now it seems that someone else wants her job, and a powerful pol isn't  so keen on re-certifying Royster, who's also the Ward 4 Democrats' chairwoman.

Last night, Councilmember Vince Orange weighed in on an e-mail thread to say that the DCDSC had voted to tell the DNC that it would select the alternate committeewoman, Estell Mathis-Lloyd, to replace Royster. Mathis-Lloyd, as it happens, is Orange's chief of staff.


  • BiteMe

    And they have the nerve to raise our rates? Pepco is nothing but trouble. This definitely sheds bad light on that company..

  • Drez

    I don't know how this affects my opinion of PEPCO, if at all, but it reinforces my low opinion if Orange and the DCDSD.

  • Marciela

    With you on this one, Drez. Opportunist!!

  • lizbeth

    As a DC resident, I'm even more suspect about pepco now. something fishy is going on with that company. hope the media relaunches a major investigation and the powers that be do NOT raise my rates. HELP. money in my house is tight enough.

  • d

    Is this even news.

  • Southeast Ken

    I agree d, is this really news? Who cares? However, PEPCO sucks as a utlity provider.

  • Ward7Diva

    Orange is a sneaky rat bastard. I can not believe he got back on the Council!

  • Samantha

    Why did Orange really leave PEPSO. The word is INCOMPETENCE and Questionable Activities .I hope that Royster lets it all hang out on this intrigue .Orange thinks he is a BLACK CHENEY!

  • GOPUnite

    As a republican who will never vote for Orange, I can atleast say he is not one of the corrupt politicians on the council.

    Cant say that for your councilmember @Ward7Diva!!

    If anything Vincent Orange did a smart thing by leaving Pepco because since he left that company has been drenched in poor performance reviews, complaints and bad ethics situations.

  • NE boy

    Vincent Bernard Orange is full of shit and is is as oily as the drip pan under a deep fryer. I grew up and still live in NE near his home and will tell you that he is full of shit. His ass left Pepco because he wasn't doing his fucking job. He ran for the council because he couldn't find another fucking job and is worthless. The sad fact is that his wife is sweet as sugar and a real asset to the ward, but his ass is nothing more than an ass to the ward. Just sad.

  • http://www.workingwithcrazy.com Kokopelli

    What is happening to Ms. Royster is unconscionable. Unfortunately the vilifying of her character represents what too frequently happens to professionals who demonstrate business ethics and professional responsibility by shedding light and seeking lawful resolution to discriminatory and unethical practices in the workplace.

    As an attorney who has taken an oath to uphold the constitution and follow the law, her responsibility to ethics was even greater. She did her job. Beyond being unethical, sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation are illegal. Any negative action towards Ms. Royster is severely misdirected.

    The research blog Working With Crazy.com - available at http://www.workingwithcrazy.com - discusses such dysfunctions that happens in the workplace.

  • Peter Rosenstein

    Vincent Orange should know better then to do this. It makes him look sleazy.

  • DCNative

    Royster was also MIA in her post as Ward 4 Democrats President. She neglected to host Ward 4 Dems meetings for 5 mos from 2010-2011. She only decided to host a meeting when the oppurtunity arose to host a At-Large Candidates Forum for the Special Election in late April of this year. Otherwise they still may not have had a meeting. It drove people in Ward 4 nuts!

  • Skinsfan83

    Estell Lloyd is loved throughout Ward 4, and has done a great job in the community for years. Im sure she will do a great job as DCDNCW and will go to all the meetings.

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  • deborah

    Estelle Lloyd is nothing but an opportunist, who allegedly hated on every young woman who tried to excel under her leadership on the Council. I hope and pray that Deborah Royster gets this straighten out.

  • BiteMe

    I am glad Estelle Lloyd is getting this opportunity. She is loved throughout Ward 4 and has done a great job throughout the city. Deborah Royster is a first class joke, and if she honestly cared about the position, she would have addressed the situation before she started missing meetings.

  • http://www.keithjarrell2012.com Keith Jarrell

    I don't trust any of them. Bowser's constituent services director is Secretary of Ward 4 Dem's and what do you propose spurred this? Politics by all means. It is a game, the more you have in such positions the stronger it makes you feel. I frankly have lost faith in the very system that allows this continued game playing to go on. Royster has issues and like every other situation, the white man got the job so she has to sue. When all else fails, throw in the race card!

  • bdaneker

    What Ms. Royster fails spell out is that her attendance at DNC meetings and local DSDSC meetings is completely unacceptable by any standard. She states demands from her employer have kept her from her duties. What she doesn’t say is that she had time to launch a campaign to run for Chair of Ward 4 again. While she fails to have regular and timely meeting of Ward 4 Dems. All you here is excuses from her. To quote George Washington Carver, “Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses”.
    She first claimed 40,000 voters backed her, but the truth is only 17,000 voters cast a ballot for her. She has not lived up to the expectations of a National Committee Woman, something voters surely would be concerned with now. People with integrity do what they say they are going to do; others have excuses. And it appears Ms. Royster is full of excuses as Pepco is realizing in their own battle with her over the recent discrimination and retaliation suit she has filed. It’s the same old story with Ms. Royster…take a half truth and spin it for her own attention and benefit.
    She was notified via first class mail in a letter from the DNC which she has not shared with the media, which should be the first hint something is awry. In that letter it stated she has been deemed to have resigned. In non legal terms, they took her off the committee for violating the rules set forth by the charter for attendance. DNC records will show she attend only one meeting in Autin Texas in 2009 since she was elected in Nov 2008.
    Her attempted appeal to the DNC resulted as I predicted last week with the same answer. You have been deemed resigned. She is correct that if the state committee were to re-certify her she could resume her seat. However, it would be a huge injustice to the voters and to the DCDSC to even entertain the thought of re-seating Ms. Royster. I am confident that the voters have seen Ms. Royster’s true colors now. It would be a huge injustice to the voters and reflect poorly on the DCDSC to reseat her given her attendance record at DNC and local DCDSC meetings. Ms. Royster has not raised one dime for the party or for convention activities since taking office, something that is paramount to the position of Nation Committee Woman.

    Furthermore, her quick claim of insiders trying to take over due to her OCF complaint; what she fails to tell is poor guidance was provided by OCF; no written guidelines or checklist. What she failed to understand was no malfeasance was ever found by OCF or by the DCDSC Audit Committee of which she was a member, until she quit! It’s a pattern of repeated behavior. What OCF did find were issues with the timely reporting for the DCDSC “non convention” accounts. She also doesn’t tell you that it was Dan Wedderburn who replaced the former treasurer who should have filed those papers when it was discovered in Nov 2008 after the books were turned over to him. As records will show in OCF, that because the account was open as DCDSC Denver convention 2008 instead of Denver convention 2008, it was deemed a DCDSC account and we then were required to file an OCF report on those funds. Only when that determination was made was their question on over payments. Had it been a Denver Convention account there would not have been over payments. It was Ms. Royster’s attempt to discredit the current officers of the DCDSC for her potential rise in the party ranks that set off the fire storm she refers to. At no time were any funds from the convention account deemed unaccounted for. Marilyn Tyler Brown was the Treasurer of the Denver convention committee and is beyond reproach in her record keeping as was noted in the OCF audit.
    Again, Ms. Royster will not get the votes needed to certify her, the seat will go to our alternate National committee Woman.

  • http://google Jerry gallagher

    O.K.-Pepco sucks, but so do these bullshit racial claims. This woman should look at her salary versus her TRUE abilities in the real world. I'm sure her 'race' has already helped her career; for years,companies pat themselves on the back for promoting certain 'folks'.Pepco shareholders should be outraged by these stupid claims of racism. Know this: MOST of Pepco shareholders are white and we are sick of a major company playing race games. Get rid of this woman and let her get back to her demonrat roots.