A USCF FIRST: POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING BY CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
On April 27, USCF President and Chief Operating Officer Beatriz Marinello sent out a mass e-mailing endorsing the four members of the "Success Team" slate for the Executive Board. This mailing said in part, "Please vote in the USCF Executive Board election for the US Chess Success Team."
While USCF Presidents have acted politically in the past, such activity has always been prohibited for those in charge of the business office, who have been variously called Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Business Manager, or Office Manager.
When I was Executive Director, I sent a letter to each candidate with the following wording, similar to that used by others previously in charge of the office:
U.S. Chess Federation Secretary Frank Brady has informed me that you are officially a candidate for the USCF Executive Board in this year's special election. This letter is simply to make clear how the office relates to the whole election process.
The staff and I are pledged to political neutrality. Regardless of how we might feel about any candidate, we will do our best to offer each and every candidate equal and courteous service.
It is unfortunate that our present Chief Operating Officer has abandoned the proper practice of running a nonpolitical office. Had I endorsed candidates when I was Executive Director, I would have been promptly fired by the Board, and with justification.
This inappropriate activity is consistent with a pattern of questionable behavior under this administration, including:
1. On 9/10/04, the President declared that she intended to apply for the position of Executive Director. The USCF Standards of Conduct state that no Executive Board member may profit financially from any business activity of the USCF if the Executive Board is involved in determining the arrangements, and that this restriction applies during the Board member's tenure and for two years thereafter. Unfortunately, this contains a loophole allowing a Board member to use her position to line up votes to become ED and then resign right before the ED selection vote, so the "arrangements" are apparently not determined during her tenure.
2. On 9/12/04, the Board voted to begin a search for the position of Executive Director, which was not vacant. The President voted in favor of beginning this search.
3. Even though it is accepted practice that the ED places national tournaments, the President circumvented the ED in 11/04 and asked the Events Manager, who is under the ED, to prepare a contract to place the 2006 US Open at a grossly inferior location supported by the President's major political ally.
4. Breaking a long tradition of office neutrality, the Chief Operating Officer in 4/05 sent out a mass e-mailing endorsing a slate of Executive Board candidates.
5. Breaking a long tradition of magazine neutrality, the administration placed an inaccurate, politically motivated "financial report" in the 5/05 issue of Chess Life.