Obama Campaign Office Staff Lacks Racial Diversity, May Violate Civil Rights Law

Neil Munro, Daily Caller, May 6, 2012

Civil rights lawyers told The Daily Caller that President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign managers may have violated employment law by hiring an overwhelmingly white office staff for his campaign headquarters in Chicago.

That skewed workforce is starkly visible in an April photo released by Obama’s Chicago office, which shows roughly 100 of the office’s staff.

Only two of the people in the photo, far in the back, are clearly African-American, far below their 13 percent of the national population, and their 33-percent representation in Chicago.

“Were I the general counsel of an employer in Chicago with the workforce in the picture … I would be concerned,” said Charles Shanor, a law professor at Emory University and the former general counsel at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

“The workforce is overwhelmingly made up of young white males [and is] a demographic profile that could raise red flags under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act,” he told TheDC.

If asked by managers, “‘Do we run a risk of legal liability?’ I would say ‘Sure,’” if a company’s picture showed only two African-Americans in a staff of 100, said Northeastern University’s Roger Abrams, a left-of-center law professor and former dean of the Rutgers School of Law.

Skewed hiring happens, Abrams told TheDC, because “people are simply not aware of what they’re doing … [or that] the racism, the sexism, the discrimination on the basis of other grounds, are just a way of life.”

“An underrepresentation of a particular group is a red flag … but underrepresentation by itself is not proof of a violation,” said Michael J. Goldberg, a law professor and former Acting Dean at Widener University.


Politico reported on April 18 that Stefanie Brown, who heads the campaign’s outreach to African-American voters, sent an urgent memo asking for help in “staffing up in states around the country, and I need your help to find qualified, African American candidates.”

The plea may be a response to the campaign’s pallor problem, which could hurt its standing with its vital bloc of African-American voters.

The image of Obama’s nearly all-white campaign staff “is not a surprise to me, because if you look at that [senior campaign] team you can’t see any diverse people,” an African-American diversity consultant told TheDC.


But the image of Obama’s nearly all-white office staff is also a red flag for lawsuits claiming “disparate impact” violations, said lawyers.

Disparate impact law allows penalties against employers whose apparently color-blind practices unintentionally produce varying outcomes for women, African-Americans or Hispanics.

Disparate impact law is an extension of more traditional “disparate treatment” law, which bars employers from intentionally treating individuals differently because of their skin color, sex or age.

Obama is a strong supporter of disparate impact law.

His deputies in the Justice Department, the EEOC and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are also using it to regulate banks’ lending practices, schools’ discipline policies, and hiring practices by every employer with more than 15 employees.


If the Obama re-election campaign were to be sued, the photo shows that it would “have a strong burden to overcome,” Pacific Legal Foundation civil rights lawyer Joshua Thompson told TheDC.


And there is little or no courtroom-ready evidence that Obama’s team cannot find enough skilled African-Americans to work on software, websites, press releases, videos, and the many back office tasks that can make or break a campaign.

The office currently employs roughly 140 people, according to an online count by the independent group Democracy in Action. The April photo appears to show the section of the office used by many of the roughly 80 staff who work on technology-related tasks, such as video production, software development and data analysis.

No employer could argue that there’s a lack of qualified African-American office staff in Chicago, said Sharon Jones, a diversity consultant in Chicago.

“We’re in a situation where we have huge unemployment … [and] for racial and ethnic minorities, unemployment rates are double” that of whites, said Jones. “There are a lot of minorities who could fill jobs … [and] there are people who could move [so] I don’t think there is a lack of human capital.”


The campaign’s staff does include several African-Americans, and some Hispanics.

For example, the campaign’s website features Loren Reedy, a receptionist, and Sheena Patton, the human resources director.

His upper-level political team also includes several senior African-American advisers. They include Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, the national youth director for the Obama campaign; Stephanie Brown, national director for the African-American vote; and Michael Blake, the deputy director of the campaign’s turnout operation.

“They’ve got [African-American] people there,” said Jamal Simmons, a D.C.-based political consultant. But “they could just do better.”


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  • Nonsense.  There’s plenty of diversity in that photo.  Almost every one of them is a white liberal who believes in diversity.  And that’s diverse enough.

    • The__Bobster

      Take a closer look. They don’t exactly look White.

      • sbuffalonative

        They’re not 100% white but whites are clearly the majority.

        I see a few Asians and maybe a swarthy middle Easterner but I don’t see any blacks or Hispanics.

        • The__Bobster

          No, they look like the group that voted 78% for Obongo.

  • Boereseun

    We can only hope they are all replaced by the appropriate amount of wise Latinos, sons of Obama and other non-white minorities in the hopes that Obama’s campaign staff will be more geared to tackle the ever changing face of American politics. 

    All that white privilege in one room, just makes one sick! Obama should be ashamed!  

    • Anonymous

      Maybe these white liberals will rethink their stance on diversity and their self-hating white liberal attitudes once they are forced to give up their jobs and possessions to nonwhites.  Then again, I doubt it.  There are plenty of whites, liberal or not, who are the victims of violent black crime and that still doesn’t racially awake them.

  • ed91

    have you ever noticed that efficiency and diversity are always at odds?

    • Anonymous

      The only people who don’t notice this flaw are blacks, browns and white liberals.

  • To these evil smiling Irish eyes there appear to be a fair amount of people with high cheekbones in that picture. 

  • ageofknowledge

    Obama knows who to go to when he needs things done right.

  • IstvanIN

    Rce traitors.  I see their smug, evil faces on the highway every day with their Obama bumper stickers.  May they get what they deserve.

    • I have talked about this one with some of my friends and here are some things that I point out…

      Our choice was between Obama and McCain.

      John McCain’s first order of business when he lost in 2008 was to
      craft a bill seeking a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson (a black boxer
      who was ‘persecuted’ by whites in the early 1900’s). The good Senator
      would have bent over BACKWARDS to prove that he was not a racist,
      throwing white people under the bus all across the country.

      McCain sided with TEDDY KENNEDY on an amnesty bill for the illegal aliens… The Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S. 1033), a bill proposed in May 2005 by Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain, sometimes referred to as the “McCain-Kennedy or McKennedy Bill.”        BARF BARF BARF!!!

      McCain admitted that his weak point was the economy!! Yes, he would
      be led around by the Banksters and we would be as bad off if not worse.

      McCain has openly stated that we should attack Iran and Syria which would have us mired in wars that are of no concern to us.

      McCain is NO FRIEND TO VETERANS or to FAMILIES OF VIETNAM POW’s. Google “McCain and Kerry stonewall POW families.

      McCain cares first and foremost about… McCain

      Yes, I think McCain could have been worse than Obama. Unfortunate but true.

      • Anonymous

        The truth, is neither of these two parties is pro white or willing or to reduce the size of government.  Think about it.  Their paychecks (elected officials) come from the government.  The smaller it is, the less money there will be to pay for their salaries, their free health care and their after retirement benefits.

  • Lou

     Obama is a strong supporter of disparate impact law.

    His deputies in the Justice Department, the EEOC and the Department
    of Housing and Urban Development are also using it to regulate banks’
    lending practices, schools’ discipline policies, and  hiring practices by
    every employer with more than 15 employees.

    Anyone still wondering why the country is in shambles ?

  • Shawn_thefemale

    How pathetic is that?? Gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling for the country’s future, doesn’t it?

  • This is a good example of showing how hard it can be to find qualified blacks and should be brought up in any EOOC investigation.” See we got mo dieversity than Obama does”

  • JackKrak

    It’s always interesting to me how people like those in the picture are never confronted with any discussion of a fundamental fact of Democratic politics –

    *The candidates they prefer can never win without the overwhelming support of people who they desperately try to avoid. *

    By that, I mean that the people in the picture would almost certainly describe the typical Democrat as very socially conscious with plenty of minority and LBGT friends, probably employed as an environmental engineer in a smokeless & paperless office (and commutes to work by public transport or Prius, obviously), volunteers at a battered women shelter or teaches tantric sex yoga at the local community college, vacations in Napa Valley or Provence unless he wants to take another trip to help build an orphanage in Cambodia, etc.

    Which is funny since no Democrat can ever win an election without the support of every open-mouth breathing, section 8 living, food stamp abusing, criminal record having, gold tooth wearing, Air Jordan rioting, Ebonics speaking, six baby-daddy having, Tyler Perry watching, Newport Menthol smoking, neighborhood ruining idiot in the voting district.

  • Maobama already owns the black vote.

    He needs white tokens as stalking horses to lure in LibKidz n’ College educated liberals.

    Plus, his turncoat staffers know what they’re doing, as opposed to Van Jones/Corny West types. 

  • Anonymous

    They are so pious and self-hating until the people they champion for use their naive, liberal do-good attitude against them and discard them when they are no longer needed.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

     Good post.  I have also lived and traveled in Europe.  There is plenty diversity in people and cultures in indigenous Europe.  The African American Diversity Consultant only goes by color because he is a cultural IGNORAMUS.  He doesn’t know anything about the subject he is supposed to consult upon!

    Isn’t the irony of today’s pseudo-intellectual left amazing?