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College Democrats of America President Threatened with Impeachment, Attacked for Israel Support

The College Democrats of America (CDA) is in turmoil this week, with its president facing impeachment after being accused of pro-Israel allegiances and charged with improper conduct.

The College Democrats of America is the official college-outreach arm of the Democratic Party. With the publication of two articles today, the organization’s chaos and infighting has spilled into the public sphere. The last 24 hours have made it clear that Democratic support for Israel ought be viewed with suspicion and that opposition to Obama’s farce of a nuclear deal with Iran has no place in the Party. It turns out not even CDA’s president is immune from such attacks.

On Tuesday, the organization began impeachment proceedings against its sitting President, Natasha McKenzie, reelected to a second term only last week.

In an article published on Daily Kos, an anonymous member of CDA’s Executive Board wrote that the reasons for impeachment included “a series of well-publicized allegations of intimidation, corruptionchaos, and other concerns raised followed the 2015 National Convention.”

The author’s claim of “corruption” hyperlinks to another story about McKenzie, written by the same author hours earlier. This article highlights an award given last week by CDA to The American-Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) and an award given by AIPAC to CDA President Natasha McKenzie in March. In this earlier post, also on the Daily Kos, the author lambasts CDA for allowing Jonathan Kessler, AIPAC’s Leadership Development Director and a lifelong Democrat, to speak at the CDA national convention, accusing AIPAC of being incompatible with the Democratic Party. It also questions McKenzie’s dual allegiances to the groups. McKenzie has been a decorated and vocal supporter of the US-Israel relationship, and apparently that has no place in today’s Democratic party.

In the first article, the unnamed high-ranking College Dem writes,

Why would the Democratic Party’s youth auxiliary invite a representative of an organization that is spearheading lobbying against the cornerstone foreign policy achievement of the Democratic President to not only speak, but receive an award at, our convention?

I find it incredibly inappropriate (and confusing) that CDA would bring an organization that is spending millions to defeat President Obama’s foreign policy, and then give that organization an award.

The piece seems obsessed with McKenzie, making special note of an award Natasha McKenzie received in March of this year from AIPAC (below), and her relationship with the largely Democratic organization.

The “Advocate of the Year” award was given to McKenzie for her accomplishments on behalf of the US-Israel relationship.  

It appears as though the anonymous member of CDA’s leadership is insinuating a quid pro quo has taken place between AIPAC and the current CDA administration, that AIPAC is incompatible with the Democratic party, and that such “corruption” calls into question McKenzie’s propriety as head of the organization. The author has decided that the re-elected president’s relationship with AIPAC’s undermines President Obama, the Party, and the cause.

The Executive Board of CDA, acting on these absurd sentiments, sent the following letter to Amy Dacey, the Democratic National Committee’s CEO, on Tuesday morning:

DATE: July 28th, 2015

TO: Amy Dacey, Chief Executive Officer

Democratic National Committee

430 South Capitol St. SE

Washington, DC 20003

FROM: College Democrats of America Executive Board

SUBJECT: Leadership Change

To Whom It May Concern:

We, the undersigned members of the College Democrats of America executive board, wish to make a joint statement regarding the future of CDA.

We do not stand by the actions of our President, Natasha McKenzie, during the 2015 College Democrats of America national convention, nor do we hold confidence in her ability to lead this organization moving forward. During the convention, Natasha McKenzie exhibited unethical behavior and promulgated an unacceptable culture of intimidation. To this end, we are hereby calling on Natasha McKenzie to resign immediately as National President of the College Democrats of America. If Natasha McKenzie shall not resign, we the undersigned Executive Board intend to move forward with official articles of impeachment for Natasha McKenzie attached below with the necessary reasoning.

Noting this, we also understand CDA must be in a position to move forward as a successful and productive organization. We, therefore, express complete confidence in Marvin McMoore’s ability to assume the responsibility of National President. Marv displayed excellence in leadership during his tenure as Massachusetts College Democrats President and CDA Black Caucus Chair. We are extremely optimistic that Marv will increase the transparency and ethical standing of CDA.

In pursuit of strengthening our continuing relationship with the DNC, we request a meeting with DNC personnel to discuss necessary steps to curb the unethical behavior and culture of intimidation promulgated specifically by those staffers tasked with youth engagement.

During the course of the 2015-2016 academic year, we look forward to rebuilding and revitalizing the College Democrats of America in partnership with the DNC. Our ultimate goal is to create an organization that will strengthen the youth vote during the 2016 elections and elect a Democratic President of the United States.

Sincerely,

Jamie Zieno (NY) – Director of Development

Valeria Ojeda (DC) – Director of Programs

Carlos Martinez (TX) -Director of Membership

Alex DiLalla (IL) – Director of Political Affairs

Rawley Van Fossen (MI) – National Council Chair

Naeemah Charles (CA) – National Council Vice Chair

Ebony West (NC) – National Council Secretary

The two articles, published by the same author and only hours apart, seem to be using support for Israel as a means to impugn McKenzie, as if recognition for her and AIPAC’s efforts for the US-Israel relationship somehow make her more prone to malfeasance.

The claims of “unethical behavior” and “intimidation” appear to stem from conduct during election proceedings for Director of Communications. Indeed, the Director of Communications and the Vice President are the only members of CDA’s Executive Board (other than McKenzie herself) not to have signed the call for impeachment.

But these attacks on ranking pro-Israel Democrats is not new. This sudden procedural attack on McKenzie bears likeness to that on Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. Soon after taking a strong pro-Israel stance in opposition to a bad deal with Iran, unrelated corruption charges were leveled against the Senator. Menendez decried that the indictment was “intended to silence” him. Since the news broke, McKenzie has been silent.

Troublingly, it seems the Democratic party, even at the college level, has taken to tendentiously quashing dissent in its ranks on matters of policy, targeting those who fail to toe the party line on Israel-related matters.

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