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Candidates and controversy: cast your vote
Laurie MacDonald’s belated entry into the U.S. House Democratic primary for District 12 will divide the April 23 vote against incumbent Congresswoman Summer Lee (“Laurie MacDonald wants to serve Pennsylvania as a moderate Democrat,” Jan. 19).

A divided field almost always results in a win by the incumbent.

This is an important race. It requires a solution to the splitting of votes.

Rep. Lee is one of only 10 members of the House to vote against bipartisan resolution H.Res.771 “Standing with Israel as it defends itself against the barbaric war launched by Hamas and other terrorists.”

MacDonald announced her candidacy four months after Bhavani Patel’s tireless campaign had cemented her role as a strong challenger, with committed volunteers, major endorsements and successful fundraising. In a New York Times interview, Patel said: “Something that keeps coming up in my conversations is that Congresswoman Lee continues to equivocate. We’re responding to something that is evil — the murder, rape, kidnapping of children, men, women and grandparents. There shouldn’t be any equivocation on this.”

The Chronicle quotes MacDonald as calling Patel “a nice girl, but she’s a girl” who does “not know anything.” Yet Patel’s experience includes a master’s in international relations from the University of Oxford, working as the community outreach manager for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and serving on the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and as a Biden delegate for the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

In contrast, MacDonald’s tenure as CEO/president of the Center for Victims invites scrutiny. The Chronicle asked about controversy: “An article published by WPXI in 2020 reported that MacDonald and others at the Center for Victims made homophobic and racist slurs during her time as president and CEO.” MacDonald answered that they “were part of a personnel issue, the story aired just once, and then, because it was false, never appeared again on any newscast.”

But an internet search reveals two well-documented investigative reports aired by WPXI-TV, featuring accounts by four former employees of Center for Victims, headed by MacDonald.

WPXI obtained six letters sent to the nonprofit’s board of directors. One of the letters claimed that “stupid Jews,” “fat lesbians” and the “n-word” were among the slurs used by Center for Victims leaders.

Center for Victims now faces a federal discrimination lawsuit that includes allegations of a toxic work environment. The organization also was sued for wrongful termination of a longtime employee with a disability, who voiced her grievances on WPXI-TV. That suit was resolved in mediation in 2020.

MacDonald told the Chronicle she opposes incumbent Lee because “She’s just divisive.” But it’s also divisive to split the Democratic field, ensuring another two-year term for Lee.

MacDonald says she ran “as a Republican against Sean Logan for a state Senate seat in 2000.” Why not again run as a Republican and not split the Democrat field?

If MacDonald wins the Republican nomination she could then run against the Democrat nominee — Lee or Patel — on Nov. 5.

Laurel Herman
Pittsburgh

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