Deborah Royster leaves elected DNC post


Royster (University of the District of Columbia)

A District attorney and political activist has left a position on the Democratic National Committee that city voters elected her to in 2008.

Deborah M. Royster departed her post as the District’s national committeewoman earlier this month. Her seat was one of two positions on the national party body that are elected citywide by Democratic voters.

Royster told local party activists that her job as a deputy general counsel for Pepco Holdings was interfering with her party duties. She also serves as chairwoman of the Ward 4 Democrats.

“She just couldn’t get it all done,” said Anita Bonds, chairwoman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee. “As we all know, her company needs her, let me put it that way.”

Two sources familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak on the record said that Royster was not in compliance with party bylaws, which state that committee members “who miss three consecutive meetings of the Democratic National Committee have failed to meet the minimum level of attendance and shall be deemed to have resigned.” Bonds said Royster was not forced to resign by the party.

The DNC typically holds two meetings a year.

In an interview Tuesday night, Royster confirmed that she is being removed from her seat and that she is appealing the decision. She said she was unable to make the committee’s last meeting, in May, which was held to elect a new chairman and was not scheduled in advance.

“I was elected by the residents of the District of Columbia,” she said. “I have an obligation to the more than 40,000 Democrats who voted for me.”

Royster ran citywide in the 2008 Democratic primary, beating two challengers with just over 50 percent of the vote.

There is an alternate committeewoman, Estell Mathis-Lloyd, who serves as chief of staff for D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large). But under party rules, Bonds said, local party members will select a replacement for Royster at an upcoming meeting, likely in early November. Mathis-Lloyd said Monday that she plans to seek Royster’s spot.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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