Maryland NOW says grievance claim against Trachtenberg resolved
Questions concern councilwoman's handling of organization's treasury
An attorney representing Montgomery County Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg has asked the Maryland Chapter of the National Organization for Women to dismiss a claim that Trachtenberg mishandled money while serving as treasurer of the organization.
In a Dec. 9 letter to Terry O'Neill, national president of NOW, Bruce Bender, a Rockville attorney, called concerns raised about Trachtenberg's bookkeeping "totally frivolous."
He requests that NOW "dismiss the grievance" and that NOW members stop discussing the matter with the media.
"If this does not occur immediately, Ms. Trachtenberg has given me the authority to bring legal action against any individuals including any officers of Maryland NOW for defamation and invasion of privacy amongst other things," Bender wrote in the letter.
Beth Corbin, president of NOW's Maryland chapter, said the grievance was an "internal Maryland NOW matter that's been dealt with."
Corbin would not discuss it further, but said that it had been "resolved."
Sandy Bell, action vice president for the Maryland chapter of NOW, said the organization "did not want this to be public."
"We have not done anything through the courts," she said.
Bender wrote to O'Neill that the allegations and the grievance procedure against Trachtenberg occurred after she had left the organization.
Trachtenberg served as treasurer of Maryland NOW from about 2006
until November 2008, when she resigned from her position and membership with the organization.
O'Neill is a former chief of staff for Trachtenberg, who is a past president of Maryland NOW and served as the mid-Atlantic regional director.
NOW has more than 500,000 members and more than 550 local and campus affiliates nationwide, according to the national chapter's Web site.
"Further, it is unprecedented that a grievance procedure would be pursued against someone who is not even a member of the organization," Bender wrote. "In fact the pursuit of said grievance is improper and is in violation of the organization rules."
In an interview, Trachtenberg (D-At large) of North Bethesda said she would not comment on specifics of the NOW grievance because she had not seen it or been notified about it.
Trachtenberg said she learned of the grievance when questioned by a Gazette reporter in December.
As treasurer, Trachtenberg attended between six and 10 meetings annually where she presented financial records, she said. None of those reports was ever questioned, and no concerns were raised about her job as treasurer, Trachtenberg said.
NOW has not responded to Bender's letter, Trachtenberg said earlier this month.
Bell said she could not discuss details of the grievance, but said Trachtenberg was aware of it when it was filed. Trachtenberg denies knowing about the grievance.
"Part of our grievance process is that both parties are notified that there will be hearings," Bell said.
She said the hearing already had taken place, but would not discuss the outcome.
NOW's national office had no comment, said a spokeswoman for O'Neill.