MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A complaint to the Democratic National Convention says two male Vermont delegates were replaced by women in the name of "gender balance" and without adequate due process.
The complaint, filed by 21 Vermont Democrats including 16 women, says the national party this month strong armed the state party to replace Vermont Sen. Tim Ashe and party stalwart Ken Dean, although Dean and Ashe were elected June 11. Dean is among the 21 complainants; Ashe is not.
The state delegation to the four-day convention that begins Monday in Philadelphia overwhelmingly supports Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president over presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
"The DNC's tactics were designed to strong-arm the Vermont Democratic Party: the party was ordered to act within 24 hours, the party was threatened with the loss of 5 delegate seats, the loss of hotel rooms and the password necessary for convention logistics," the complaint says. "The Vermont delegation was given no time to work together to explore other ways, other solutions, to abate the gender imbalance."
The complaint was filed electronically Tuesday with the DNC credentials committee. Six of the 21 complainants are delegates. Dean, who told The Associated Press about the complaint on Wednesday, said he expects the credentials committee to consider it Sunday.
A DNC spokesman did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Conor Casey, executive director of the state party, said the Vermont party was trying to comply with national party requirements. He said penalties for noncompliance include the loss of five state delegates.
"That was not a risk we were willing to take," Casey said Thursday.
Vermont is sending 26 delegates to the convention. Twenty-two of them back Sanders, including Dean, Ashe and their female replacements. The four Clinton supporters are superdelegates Sen. Patrick Leahy, Gov. Peter Shumlin, former Gov. Howard Dean and national committee member Billi Gosh.
Ken Dean said the real imbalance wasn't with elected delegates but superdelegates, who are elected officials and party leaders. Eight of 10 Vermont superdelegates are men. The complaint offers possible remedies going forward, including adjustments to the superdelegation.
This story has been corrected to show the complaint was filed by 21 Democrats on behalf of the two elected delegates.