Whitmer’s ex-manager: Allegation doesn’t match ‘the facts’
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The former campaign manager for Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer said Friday that he resigned due to allegations that he had said “manipulative and insulting things” to a co-worker on an old campaign and had “communicated inappropriately” with others at that time.
Keenan Pontoni issued a statement a day after Whitmer announced that he stepped down at her request after she received a credible report of his “inappropriate behavior” with others in the workplace a number of years ago.
“I learned yesterday that someone I had worked with on a campaign early in my career reported that I had said manipulative and insulting things to them later on and that I had communicated inappropriately with others,” he said. “Though the allegation as presented to me does not match up with the facts as I know them, I am committed to the continued success of the candidates I have worked for. As a result, I made the decision to resign my position so that I’d not become a distraction to the Whitmer campaign. I am grateful for the time I had working with the Whitmer campaign and I am very proud of the team and culture we built together.”
Pontoni joined Whitmer’s campaign in August. He was her second campaign manager and took the job after leading Democrat Jon Ossoff’s unsuccessful campaign in a special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
Pontoni was involved in Michigan’s presidential election recount in late 2016 and before then managed Democratic former state Rep. Gretchen Driskell’s unsuccessful campaign against Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District. He previously was the special projects coordinator for Democrats in the state House, led a Driskell’s winning legislative campaign and worked on various state and local campaigns in Michigan.
Whitmer is among four main Democrats running for governor to succeed term-limited Republican Rick Snyder. The other three are former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed, businessman Shri Thanedar and former business executive Bill Cobbs. The primary election is in August.
The Whitmer campaign’s political director, Dana Sherry, will be the interim manager.
This story has been corrected to spell the interim campaign manager’s last name as Sherry, not Cherry.