A Republican woman who founded a nonprofit organized to offer financial support for unpaid Capitol Hill interns is suing the organization on claims that she was fired for her conservative political beliefs.
Audrey Lynn Henson, who founded College to Congress (C2C) and twice campaigned for former President Donald Trump, was fired from the organization last year after she announced plans to run for a Florida congressional seat and outlined a conservative platform, reports The Washington Post.
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In her lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this month, Henson says C2C’s board ordered her to resign as the nonprofit’s CEO “because of her political affiliations.”
Board members, she said in the lawsuit, believed her “conservative Republican beliefs posed a threat to the financial and reputational stability” of the organization. They said the same threat would not exist if she was a Democrat, the lawsuit said.
Henson founded C2C in 2016. She had interned for Republican lawmakers and had been a welfare recipient who was raised by a single mother. She said her goal was to give low-income students the opportunity to “work in positions of power that for decades was reserved for only the elite.”
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Henson was replaced by former congressman Dennis Ross as interim CEO, but he “was not asked to resign” even after he announced his plans to run for a different Florida congressional seat than Henson, but also as a Republican.
Ross, a member of Trump’s 2016 transition team, resigned from C2C last year before his unsuccessful campaign for Congress, a C2C spokesperson said.
In her lawsuit, Henson alleges that Ross was the “‘right’ type of Republican for the board.
C2C issued a statement, denying it did anything wrong but confirming the organization “separated” from Henson last year.
“C2C will continue to work to make Congress more effective and reflective of the people it serves,” the statement said. “We will not have any further comment on pending litigation.”
The organization also did not explain why Ross was considered to be acceptable for the job but Henson was not.
Henson’s lawsuit also says the board had discussed concerns that Nike would pull out as a sponsor for C2C “as many other high-profile corporate donors had previously done because of Mrs. Henson’s conservative political beliefs.”
Henson dropped out of her congressional race after Florida’s electoral map was redrawn. She then ran for a seat in Florida’s House of Representatives but lost.
Henson is being represented by Dhillon Law Group, which is representing Trump while he is deciding to respond to a congressional subpoena for testimony about the incidents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Matthew Sarelson, an attorney for Dhillon, said the lawsuits are not connected.
“We represent lots of people from different political viewpoints,” he said.
Sarelson also said C2C did not provide further details about its decision or why the board backed Ross and not Henson.
Henson said she hasn’t decided if she’s running in any 2024 elections and claimed she’s focusing on getting her organization back.
“We were already changing laws,” she told The Post. “We were getting nepotism out of Congress. We were making Congress more efficient. Everybody wants Congress to operate better.”