Trone Campaign Undergoes Staff Changes Before Political Director Resigns

Trone Campaign Undergoes Staff Changes Before Political Director Resigns

The director, Grace Rivera-Oven, said she is considering running for County Council

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Grace Rivera-Oven at a Montgomery County Council event for Hispanic Heritage Month 2016

Montgomery College/ Pete Vidal

Businessman David Trone’s campaign for the District 6 congressional seat is undergoing staff changes, which it made before his political director resigned last week.

Grace Rivera-Oven informed the campaign Jan. 29 she was resigning, effective immediately.

“Due to personal and family issues I need to resign,” Rivera-Oven wrote in her resignation email that was shared by the campaign with Bethesda Beat. “I wish you the best and many blessings through the rest of your campaign.”

Rivera-Oven signed the email, “Fondly.”

Though the email suggested that Rivera-Oven lad left the campaign on good terms, the local blog A Miner Detail soon published vague allegations relating to her departure from unnamed sources. The allegations related to the campaign’s work environment and treatment of staff. The post has been making its way around political circles in the county.

Trone’s campaign staff declined to comment on the allegations. Bethesda Beat has been unable to independently confirm the allegations.

“Grace was a great asset to our campaign, and we’re appreciative of her ongoing support,” Trone campaign spokesman Alex Koren wrote in an emailed statement. “David and she have spoken, and she strongly supports his work attacking the opioid crisis, increasing access to education, and working to improve life for families throughout Maryland. We expect Grace to make a new significant contribution in public service, which she will be announcing at the appropriate time.”

Bethesda Beat attempted to contact Rivera-Oven several times since the blog post was published to discuss the allegations, but she did not respond.

On Monday, a reporter spotted Rivera-Oven meeting with County Council member George Leventhal in the cafeteria at the County Council Office Building in Rockville. When asked about the blog post, she declined to comment and would not say whether the allegations raised in the post were true.

However, she did say she is considering launching an at-large bid for the County Council. She would not comment further.

Rivera-Oven is the owner of the public relations firm GRO LLC and also hosts the Spanish language public-access television program, Revista Semanal Montgomery, according to a summary about her from The Daily Record.

Trone is one of several candidates pursuing the Democratic nomination for the District 6 seat after incumbent Rep. John Delaney announced he’s running for president rather than reelection. Trone is the co-founder of Total Wine & More. The wealthy businessman set a record in 2016 when he spent $13.4 million of his own money on a failed bid to win the District 8 congressional seat. He finished second in the Democratic primary to current Rep. Jamie Raskin. So far Trone has contributed about $2.3 million to his campaign for the District 6 seat.

The leading Democrat challengers include Del. Aruna Miller (D-Darnestown), state Sen. Roger Manno (D-Silver Spring), former veteran Andrew Duck and Potomac pediatrician Dr. Nadia Hashimi. The Democratic primary is June 26.

After Rivera-Oven’s exit, the Trone campaign detailed its current staff arrangement. Rich Parsons, a local political operative and former president of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, was promoted last month from campaign manager to senior strategist.

The campaign also brought in Jerid Kurtz as campaign manager in January. Kurtz previously ran Democratic Rep. Ami Bera’s successful reelection campaign in California in 2016 and worked as the communications director on Democrat Anthony Brown’s 2014 unsuccessful bid for Maryland governor.

In the last two months, Trone has also hired two people who worked on campaigns in Virginia where Democrat Ralph Northam won the state’s gubernatorial election in November. Tim Ross, a regional field director for Virginia’s Democratic candidates in 2017, is working as a field director for Trone, while Hannah Muldavin, who worked on Northam’s campaign, is handling communications and events for Trone’s campaign.

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