Montgomery County’s beleaguered Democratic party leadership suffered another apparent blow Tuesday evening as a member of its Central Committee resigned, citing poor leadership, dysfunction and a lack of financial transparency, and alleging committee leaders worked to further personal agendas rather than serving the public.
Nathan Feldman, who represented District 15 on the county’s Democratic Central Committee, gave up his seat on the committee at its meeting Tuesday night.
“We have a role as an institution to be accountable to the people, to show what being a Democrat is all about, and to make a difference in the community,” Feldman told MoCo360 in an interview. “That goal is impossible to achieve given actions leadership has taken to bring our organization into disrepute.”
Feldman said the committee is “not a healthy work environment and not functional.”
The MCDCC serves as the chapter of the Democratic Party in Montgomery County, and its duties include selecting candidates to replace Democratic General Assembly members from the county who leave their posts mid-term. The committee is responsible for 41% of Montgomery County delegation appointments. In 2023 alone, the committee was tasked with choosing four delegates and one state senator. The vacancy process has been criticized by good-governance activists and elected officials as undemocratic, and on Monday morning, state Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said he expected his chamber would take up reform legislation in the coming General Assembly session.
Feldman’s resignation-in-protest is the latest development in a difficult year for the committee, which has been beset by overdue tax debt, financial problems, complaints about lack of transparency and, as of last week, an announced boycott of its fall gala unless committee Chair Saman Qadeer Ahmad resigns.
Feldman himself alleged in August that Ahmad pressured him to vote against a committee candidate and that she claimed she was doing so on behalf of Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller (D). Feldman called for Ahmad to resign.
Ahmad denied the allegation and rejected the call for her ouster. A spokesperson for Miller also denied the claims.
“Why would I resign based on a false allegation?” Ahmad told MoCo360 at the time. “I was elected to this position, and I have worked hard. This is not just about the work of one person, but the work of a committee.”
Feldman said Tuesday this incident was a large factor in his decision to resign. He said he believed Ahmad was using the committee to further her own agenda and get certain people appointed to positions, a claim Ahmad has denied.
“I joined the central committee because I felt the party organization could have a role to play in elevating marginalized voices in the county,” Feldman said. “But when we have an organization that doesn’t stand for anything and undermines its own credibility, I don’t want any part of it.”
After Feldman read a statement announcing his resignation on Tuesday night, Ahmad accepted the resignation and thanked Feldman for his service and said it was “a pleasure” to work with him. Ahmad gave committee members the chance to comment but none chose to speak.
The MCDCC has been subject to significant scrutiny from constituents and some public officials this year.
Last week, Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin wrote a letter urging donors to withhold fundraising and boycott the committee’s fall gala until Ahmad resigns. Slavin was the second prominent party member to call for Ahmad’s resignation. In his letter, Slavin grouped his concerns under headers such as “incompetence, alarming lack of transparency,” “gross intimidation,” “unpaid taxes” and “financial mismanagement.” In addition to serving as the mayor of Somerset, an incorporated town in the Chevy Chase area of the county, Slavin previously served as first vice chair, deputy treasurer and trustee of the Maryland Democratic Party.
In an interview with MoCo360, Ahmad accused Slavin of creating division in the party.
Committee leaders told members in a closed session in June that the panel owed $13,608 to the IRS, after an agent stopped by their Rockville offices to threaten a lien, according to members of the committee and leaked documents. The debt stems from underpayment in 2017 and 2018, prior to Ahmad’s time as chair. In August, the committee voted to pay off the remaining debt, but some committee members who spoke to MoCo360 on the condition of anonymity criticized committee leaders for not being transparent about the debt.
“We have settled the matter appropriately, and we have issued a statement and been very clear about it. So that really is all behind us,” Ahmad told MoCo360 last week.
Feldman criticized the way the IRS debt was handled, and told MoCo360 he would not personally feel comfortable donating to or fundraising for the committee, which is part of the reason he resigned.
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