Aftab Pureval wants voters to perceive him as a supporter of women’s rights, but at least one woman he fired has a very different view of him.
The candidate for Ohio’s first congressional district never misses an opportunity to tell voters how much he wants to “help women.”
He is quick to flash his million-dollar smile and pose for selfies with members of the fairer sex, whether it’s a female public-school teacher or a random adoring woman at a Democrat rally, like the one he tweeted below on Women’s Equality Day.
— Aftab Pureval (@AftabPureval) August 27, 2018
Pureval, a true millennial capable of communicating effortlessly in hashtags, claims his political inspiration comes from the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and the #MomsDemandAction movement against gun crime.
The young Democrat and former OSU student-body president has even shown off some smooth moves on the dance floor.
He also draws inspiration from the Trump-bashing festival known as the Woman’s March on Washington, led by the jihad-friendly Palestinian-American Linda Sarsour as a defining moment in his political career.
“You know, after the last (presidential campaign) I was angry and frustrated by the direction of our country,” Pureval said at a June 14 anti-gun rally. “But it was the actions of women, in the #MeToo movement and marching in the streets that gave me hope for the future.”
“I will lead the fight to end the abuse and violence against women,” Purevall said. The only details he gives on how he would accomplish such a task is that he would “Work to prevent domestic abusers and predators from getting access to guns.”
Pureval deserves credit for staying on message. His carefully crafted strategy of framing every issue in a way that targets women voters – wither it be gun control, wages, or health care, as if male voters don’t exist and aren’t affected by some of the same issues – seems to be working, at least if you believe the polls. In a district long seen as a safe seat for Republicans, Pureval is making it a horse race. Some pollsters now rate the contest between Purevall and Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who has represented the district for 20 years, a “toss up.”
Pureval benefits from the fact that he can count on the mainstream media to not look beneath the surface of his smiling selfies and superficial claims about helping women.
When he took office in January 2017 as clerk of courts for Hamilton County, among Pureval’s first actions was to rid the department of seven female staffers.
One of the fired employees, Brittney Heitman, filed suit, alleging breach of contract resulting in financial loss for the female plaintiff.
Her suit contends Pureval has broken a non-disclosure agreement in which she and Pureval agreed not to speak negatively about each other after her termination. Pureval then violated the agreement by castigating Heitman behind her back in the media, the lawsuit contends.
Pureval claimed in media interviews he was eliminating “make work” jobs and positions filled through political-patronage, ostensibly so he could replace at least some of them with his own supporters.
Heitman claims the agreement she was forced to sign in order to get a severance package isn’t legal or enforceable and violates her constitutional rights to free speech.
“He used the tax dollars to silence his critics. And then he also promised not to disparage them, but then he did. He accused them of nepotism and patronage and our particular client was neither of those,” said Chris Finney, an attorney for Heitman.
Finney said his client filed the suit because “she’d like to be free from the agreement and comment honestly about her impressions of his performance while in office.”
The last thing Pureval wants is for the case to be adjudicated in open court before the Nov. 6 election. His attorney was successful in getting it moved to federal court, which will almost guarantee a slower slog through the system.
Heitman, 29, worked at the clerk of courts for about five years before she was fired on Feb. 17, 2017, from a job paying her about $37,500 annually. She received positive reviews, was recognized for coming up with an idea for the clerk’s office to increase collections and was granted a pay raise in late 2016 to retain her rather than lose her to another job, according to the lawsuit.
A few weeks later Pureval’s administration took over the clerk of courts. He was the first Democrat elected to the office in 100 years.
Pureval promptly asked Heitman to prepare training manuals for various job functions in the office, according to her lawsuit.
Before she could complete the task, she was fired, along with 12 other longtime staffers, the majority of them women.
They were terminated with non-disclosure agreements at a cost of $116,504.12 to the clerk’s office, according to a report by Fox 19.
Days after she was notified of her firing, Heitman signed a non-disclosure agreement requiring her to waive her right to sue the clerk of courts in exchange for receiving a severance package of $4,808, according to the suit.
Heitman and Pureval also agreed to a non-disparagement clause in the contract that said neither could make any disparaging, derogatory or negative statements about the other.
“If Employer or Employee are asked by a third party about Employee’s departure, they will state only that the Employer decided to make a change in leadership,” the agreement states.
Pureval described the firings as ridding the office of political hires, and nepotism, “thereby calling into question Heitman’s qualifications for her prior employment and generally casting a shadow over her personally and professionally,” her suit states.
The day after she was fired, Pureval was quoted as referring to the firing of Heitman and others: “We are not going to tolerate partisanship, nepotism, or make-work jobs at the courthouse.”
Those statements, according to the suit, “falsely suggest that Heitman was a partisan or nepotism hire and that her job was ‘make work.'” Pureval’s negative comments about Heitman are now receiving heightened attention and publicity as a result of his campaign for Congress, the complaint alleges.