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Ex-Idaho Dems executive resigns Florida post amid sexual harassment scandal

Sally Boyton Brown, who was executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party from 2012 to April 2017, took on the same role in Florida in May. She resigned Monday.
Sally Boyton Brown, who was executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party from 2012 to April 2017, took on the same role in Florida in May. She resigned Monday. Statesman archive photo

After less than six months, Sally Boynton Brown is out as executive director of Florida’s Democratic Party, according to Florida Politics.

In a message Monday, she notified state party leaders of her decision to step down, effective immediately.

Boynton Brown is accused by staffers of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual harassment by enabling chairman Stephen Bittel’s behavior. Bittel resigned last Friday.

Boynton Brown, who was born in Middleton and was a lifelong Idahoan, was executive director of Idaho’s Democratic Party for about five years. After running early this year to chair the Democratic National Party, she stepped down in April, then announced in May that she was taking on the state role in Florida.

One day after Bittel announced his resignation, Boynton Brown published an article on Medium titled “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.” In it, she said she would miss Bittel’s leadership and his “selfless dedication,” and she lamented that some were “piling on.”

“As our own organization is confronted with these same challenges, I am heartbroken to think that members of our staff may have not felt comfortable coming to me to share their truths,” she wrote. “We have all been working to change the culture of the FDP to ensure we have a Party that is transparent and inclusive.”

She recommended actions that employers could take to prevent sexual harassment, including hiring a third party to interview staffers to ensure concerns are voiced and charges are implemented quickly.

But staffers told Florida Politics that Boynton Brown was not only aware of Bittel’s “creepy” behavior — but that she enabled it.

“He would do it in front of Sally,” one woman told Florida Politics. “He was really into talking about sex, and if you went along with his conversations he would be more amicable to working with you.”

The Florida Democratic Party shakeup comes on the heels of high profile cases in the state Legislature, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

State Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, resigned after admitting to an affair with a lobbyist, and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, faces an investigation into sexual harassment charges.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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