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Md. LGBTQ group sues ex-director who sent email calling on board to resign

The former director of a Baltimore-based LGBTQ advocacy group is under a temporary restraining order after the organization filed a lawsuit claiming the outgoing leader hijacked its technology platforms and emailed accusations about the board of directors to supporters.

The group, FreeState Justice, claimed in a lawsuit filed this week that its ex-director, Jeremy LaMaster, was fired last week and quickly began taking over FreeState’s IT infrastructure, including administrative email accounts and the website.

LaMaster also sent an email to FreeState’s mailing list of more than 43,000 people calling on the organization’s board of directors to resign. The email said that LaMaster had resigned and accused the board of consolidating power and participating in “white supremacist culture.”

“This is false, defamatory, and denigrating of FreeState and its board members, and extraordinarily damaging for a social justice organization,” wrote Lindsey A. White, one of FreeState’s lawyers, in the complaint.

U.S. District Judge Deborah Boardman granted a request from FreeState for a temporary restraining order against LaMaster late Wednesday. Boardman also set a hearing on the order for Monday.

LaMaster denied causing the technological disruptions Thursday and said he was saddened that FreeState isn’t addressing the issues he raised in his email.

“I’m really disappointed that there has not been any attempt to have conversations on those items,” LaMaster told The Daily Record. “I remain committed that the board does need to resign and that new board leadership does need to be selected.”

LaMaster’s email also accused the board of prioritizing relationships with legislators over the needs of the organization’s clients and the LGBTQ community.

The organization disputed those allegations in the lawsuit and said the claims have harmed the organization’s reputation. LaMaster also posted his concerns to FreeState’s website without authorization.

FreeState has struggled to regain access to its technology platforms, including an intake email address used to connect with new legal clients, according to the lawsuit.

“Without judicial intervention, LaMaster’s actions will continue and cause FreeState the loss of its ability to perform its mission-critical work, its competitive advantages, valued donor and volunteer relationships, its employees, and its clients, which will result in irreparable harm,” the organization’s lawyers wrote.

FreeState has named Phillip Westry as its new executive director. Westry said the organization’s staff is still working to regain control of the operating systems.

“Our staff has been able to do their best to work around some of the issues that we faced over the last few days,” he said. “It’ll probably take a few days to get everything back up and running.”

Westry said he was disappointed with the email that LaMaster sent earlier this week.

“He took over our systems to send a message that he wanted to send that was about him and his goals, and not about the services that we provide,” Westry said.


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