Louisiana Record

Monday, February 17, 2020

Democrat challenger who lost to DeWitt in midterm race seeks probe after being fired from his job after election


By Karen Kidd | Nov 21, 2018

General court 07

BATON ROUGE – The Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) in Louisiana's 6th Congressional District has filed a complaint against his former employer who fired him after the midterms, according to a recent news report.

Justin DeWitt filed his complaint with East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III asking the office to investigate whether his former employer, the SJB Group, fired him for running for office, WAFB 9 reported on Nov. 15.

DeWitt was quoted in the news report as saying his SJB Group supervisor told him he would be laid off due to downsizing and because of poor performance in the past year but that DeWitt was the only one. The report also said DeWitt received a positive performance review and pay raise last summer.

"I’ve thought about it from every angle, trying to see it from other perspectives," DeWitt was quoted as saying in the news story. "All the angles I can come up with, either it's politically motivated or they're completely horrible and clumsy with the way they do their business."

SJB Group President Wilfred Barry, a registered Republican, declined to comment, according to the news story.

SJB Group, a civil engineering and land surveying firm, has operated in Baton Rouge since 1953, according to information on the company's website.

DeWitt was a surveyor's supervisor for the firm, according to the news report.

Dewitt is openly gay and has lived and worked in Baton Rouge for more than a decade, according to the biography on his campaign website.

"He witnessed the passage of an amendment telling him he couldn't get married, found out he could be fired if he came out of the closet, and was told that no one even wanted the blood in his veins," the biography said. "These experiences motivated him to get involved in politics in his adult life."

In the campaign to unseat Graves, DeWitt, who referred to the incumbent as a corporate sellout who takes money from special interests, found himself mightily outspent. Graves' fundraising dwarfed that of his challengers in the race, raising more than $1.1 million in contributions, compared to approximately $24,000 raised by DeWitt. Another Democrat in the race, Andie Saizan, raised approximately $6,000 for her midterm run.

In the runup to the election, DeWitt reportedly took eight approved vacation days. He lost to Graves who received almost 70 percent of the vote.

DeWitt told WAFB 9 that he was fired before he could return to work after the midterms.

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U.S. Representative Garret Graves (LA-6)Louisiana's 6th Congressional District

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