Three board members have resigned from their posts with Liberty City Democratic Club since April, the volunteer LGBTQ political action committee announced June 29.
The departures are those of Kristina Furia, the group’s treasurer, and co-chairs Alexander Olson and Anne Wakabayashi. Nine board members remain at the organization, for which bylaws require a leadership of 9-15 people, Olson said.
Members of the retired trio each cited new professional opportunities and limited availability as predominantly responsible for their resignations.
Olsen accepted a new job six months ago specializing in cable market research, he said.
“As the job started ramping up, so did obligations for Liberty City, and so both are increasingly demanding time,” Olson added.
Wakabayashi earned a promotion from her former position as executive director at Emerge Pennsylvania, an organization that recruits and trains Democratic women who want to run for office, she said. She is now the alumnae director at Emerge America, the group’s national branch.
In an email, Furia told PGN that she resigned from the Liberty City board because her wellness practice has “reached new levels of growth,” leaving her without the time to commit to Liberty City.
But Furia’s resignation created some turmoil for Liberty City, Olson said, because of Federal Election Commission rules that mandate a political committee can only spend money and accept contributions if it has a designated treasurer. The agency’s guidelines also state that “if a committee is ever without a treasurer, it cannot raise or spend anything until a new treasurer is appointed.”
Furia announced her resignation close to when she filed campaign finance reports for Liberty City pertaining to Philadelphia’s May 21 primary election, according to Olson.
“Now the organization is not capable of fulfilling its mission because it can’t spend money,” Olson said, adding the vacancy of the treasury position contributed to his resignation.
Furia did not return PGN’s request for further comment.
PGN received multiple inquiries last weekend wondering if board changes had to do with campaign finances or conduct during May’s primary elections.
Furia submitted Liberty City’s campaign finance documents to the Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners on May 23. They were officialized May 24. The commissioners office confirmed to PGN the documents were accepted and detail Liberty City’s receipts and expenditures since Jan. 1.
Wakabayashi, who served on the Liberty City board for about five years, said her decision to step down was completely independent of any actions taken by Liberty City during Philadelphia’s primary elections.
“We were an organization of volunteers that were all doing 12 million things,” she added. “It’s a time-consuming organization.”
Liberty City has accomplished a lot in Pennsylvania’s political community during its 24-year reign, Olson said.
“When Liberty City started, there was no party, no politician that cared about queer issues [or] would even consider a queer nondiscrimination law,” he added. “It’s Liberty City that really pushed city and state politics to a place where we’re getting close, at this point, to passing the Pennsylvania Fairness Act that will require nondiscrimination across the state.”
Acting Liberty City representatives did not return PGN’s request for comment.