Records: Congressional candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez terminated from nonprofit after pattern of mistreating volunteers

Vancouver Attorney Angus Lee obtained and released records showing that candidate’s employment with the Stevenson Downtown Association came to an abrupt end under questionable circumstances

Vancouver area civil rights attorney Angus Lee has recently obtained and released records showing that congressional candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez’s employment with the Stevenson Downtown Association, a nonprofit organization, came to an abrupt end under questionable circumstances, indicating she was likely fired, after she engaged in a pattern of mistreating volunteers and a staffing review showed 20 percent of Gluesenkamp Perez’s “skills were ranked as needing improvement.” 

Vancouver Attorney Angus Lee
Vancouver Attorney Angus Lee

In an email from “Marie G. Perez,” Gluesenkamp Perez acknowledged her pattern of mistreating volunteers, and the recent staffing review that concluded 20 percent of her skills were ranked as needing improvement. 

The records show that in late October of 2019, the Board of Directors for the nonprofit voted to approve a one-year contract with Gluesenkamp Perez, but the contract contained “A 30-day termination notice” clause. 

But despite the approval of a one-year contract, Gluesenkamp Perez’s employment ended only a few months later. 

Gluesenkamp Perez, apparently off put by the need that she be cordial to those who visited the nonprofit while she worked there, wrote an internal email on December 16, 2019, bemoaning what she viewed as “an exceedingly difficult climate” because “Culturally, I am expected to chat and visit with whoever stops by or risk presenting a cold, unwelcoming face of the SDA.” 

Not long after Gluesenkamp Perez sent her email complaining about having to engage in common courtesy with visitors, on December 17, 2019, John Mobley wrote “We should move forward and look for someone that works well with volunteers and has a positive attitude.” 

On December 18, 2019, the mayor of the city of Stevenson, Scott Anderson wrote “We should find a replacement as soon as possible. Hopefully she will maintain some professional decorum during transition.” 

That same day, Tabatha Wiggins, the current president of the nonprofit, wrote “…I don’t think we can expect anything further from Marie.” 

In January, 2020, B. Adams wrote, “Today I plan to call Marie and inform her of the direction we are headed. I will ask her for the website login credentials as well as keys and debit card.” 

Gluesenkamp Perez subsequently used her Gmail account to send an email to the nonprofit asking that it consider her application for her old position. In her email application letter Gluesenkamp Perez acknowledged that she had been over-zealous, and had engaged in “a pattern of overlooking volunteer morale.” Gluesenkamp Perez was not rehired. 

These records indicate that Gluesenkamp Perez, while in a position of authority as the director of a nonprofit, engaged in a pattern of mistreating volunteers. 

Video of a recent event with candidate Gluesenkamp Perez shows that she was not willing to be transparent about this issue. In the video, Gluesenkamp Perez refused to provide any answer when asked if there was documentation showing she was fired from the nonprofit. 

Angus Lee stated “as a voter, I would like to see Maria Perez publicly authorize all past and present members of the Stevenson Downtown Association to speak freely about her employment with that nonprofit and disclose any records related to her employment with, or termination from, the nonprofit, so that they can provide truthful and complete information to us the voters about how Perez treated the volunteers.” 

Angus Lee stated “as a voter, I would like to see Maria Perez disclose the staffing review that showed she needed improvement in 20 percent of her employment duties.” 

Angus Lee stated “running for Congress is the same as applying for a job. The voters are the hiring committee. If Perez wants to be hired to serve us in Congress she should be fully transparent about these issues with her treatment of volunteers.’’

Marie Gluesenkamp Perez
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

Gluesenkamp Perez, a Democrat, is opposed by Republican Joe Kent in the race in the Third Congressional District for U.S. Congress representative seat in the Nov. 8 general election. 

A representative of Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign responded to Clark County Today’s request for a response to Lee’s news release. 

“It has come to our attention that a fringe-right attorney … has issued a press release making several false and scurrilous attacks related to 3rd Congressional District Democratic candidate Marie Gluesenkamp Perez’s tenure as Executive Director of the Stevenson Downtown Association,’’ the statement read. “The attorney, Angus Lee, refers to himself in the press release as a ‘civil rights attorney’ but is perhaps best known for representing Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson. In response to the claims Lee made in the press release, Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign released the following statement:

“The assertions made in this press release are flatly false, and this is clearly a hyperpartisan smear effort intended to distract voters from MAGA extremist Joe Kent’s radical and divisive conspiracy theory claims and dangerous ideas. Contrary to the claims in the release, Marie was not ‘fired’ by the Downtown Stevenson Association.

“Rather, Marie is proud of the two years of work she did, along with so many other dedicated residents of the Stevenson, WA community, to build the capacity and reach of the Stevenson Downtown Association. Her performance review was in fact strong, and in 2019 the board of the organization sought to renew and extend her contract. But after the SDA board and Marie were unsuccessful in coming to agreement on some of the contract terms for the extension, Marie parted ways with the organization amicably and professionally, as can be corroborated by the then-leaders of the organization. 

“Again, the claims in the release are irresponsible and false. We know that Joe Kent and many of his supporters are far-right MAGA radicals who twist the truth and routinely make false claims – for instance, that Loren Culp rightfully won the 2020 gubernatorial race in Washington State (he actually lost by double digits) – and this is just the latest example of this disqualifying pattern of falsehood and conspiratorial thinking.”

Stevenson Downtown Association Executive Director Kelly McKee provided a statement to Clark County Today Wednesday evening.

“As a private 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Stevenson Downtown Association does not discuss personnel matters publicly. 

“However, email records and accusations about Congressional candidate Marie Perez were released with a press release on September 20, 2022 by attorney Angus Lee. In the release, Lee uses the words terminated’ and ‘fired’ and ‘employment … came to an abrupt end under questionable circumstances.’ All of these claims are false.

“Marie Perez was a contractor with the Stevenson Downtown Association serving as Executive Director for nearly two years. While contracting with the Stevenson Downtown Association, Marie Perez worked on increasing capacity for the organization and strengthening the downtown Stevenson district through projects and community-building initiatives. Her contract timeline expired and negotiations were underway to have it extended, yet the parties did not come to an agreement on contract terms. This led to the Board of Directors deciding to invest in hiring an employee (instead of a contractor) and creating a new job description for a part-time Executive Director. As per normal hiring process, this position was posted publicly to attract applicants. Marie Perez applied and interviewed for this new position, along with other candidates. Ultimately, the Board hired a Stevenson resident and the transition was normal and amicable.’’

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