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Friday, November 4, 2011

(Updated) Losurdo press conference proves only that she did work for a bank once — duh.

Posted by on Fri, Nov 4, 2011 at 8:47 PM

Heather Losurdo
  • Heather Losurdo
Well, that was pretty much a waste of time. Nobody ever said Heather Losurdo didn't work in a bank. What her critics said is that she exaggerated her responsibilities by claiming that she was in charge of a $2 billion loan portfolio. Her defense to that charge, issued at a press conference this evening, reduces to:

1) The charge was made in a way that suggested I never worked at a bank at all. But I did too.

(I don't think anyone ever suggested that she made the whole bank thing up. Classic rebuttal of something that's beside the point.)

2) She found her supervisor from back then, and he confirmed that she was, quote unquote, "an account manager or whatever you want to call it to service the loan portfolio for North and South Carolina."

(Whatever you want to call it?)

3) Her supervisor said that if you added up all the lines of credit that businesses in NC and SC had with the bank — used and unused — it would've been $2 billion or more."

(I have a line of credit at my bank. I've never used it, and i wouldn't count it as part of the bank's "portfolio" unless I did.)

In other words, Losurdo was a loan servicer, just as I said before her press conference. (See below.) It was not a job one should cite when claiming "vast managerial experience," which is the way Losurdo's tried to portray it.

Being an "account manager or whatever" was, rather, a job in which folks "interacted with the customers, they had technical knowledge, had an ability to communicate with people, be tactful in some adversarial type of role."

So said Donald Senior, Losurdo's former boss, in an interview with NBC-17 today. Losurdo provided a partial transcript to the press this evening as proof of, well, whatever.

Oddly, Losurdo also handed out Senior's resume, but not one of her own.

The rest of her press conference was taken up, I gather, with attacking Progress NC Action for "mudslinging."
I say I gather because I arrived 10 minutes late (Spring Forest Road — don't count on finding anything easily,) and by then it was over.

Losurdo's duties at First Union National Bank years ago have little or nothing to do with whether she's qualified to be on the school board. They're relevant only to the extent that they're all she can cite when she claims to have "vast managerial experience" in other areas besides education.

The fact is, she has no experience, managerial, civic or otherwise, to support her candidacy other than being, as she said tonight, a parent.

That, and a Republican politician of the Tea Party variety.

Kevin Hill does have vast educational experience as a teacher, principal and now a faculty member teaching future teachers at N.C. State.

The runoff election is Tuesday. Early voting ends Saturday at noon. The Indy has endorsed Hill.

***

This is what I wrote before the press conference:

A week ago when I tried to get a detailed resume from Heather Losurdo, the Republican candidate for Wake County school board in District 3, I was accused by her campaign manager of trying to "Palinize" her.

That would be as in Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president in '08, whose lack of qualifications for national office were indeed comparable to Losurdo's lack of credentials to hold the Wake Board of Education seat.

Palin-ize is a good word for it, I guess.

Anyway, the answer was that she did not have a resume, or at least not one she was willing to share.

But that was a week ago.

In the week since then, Losurdo's credentials — or lack of same — turned into a major issue thanks to the muckraking efforts of Progress NC Action, an "independent" political organization in the same way that Civitas Action is. (Civitas Action is working hard to elect Losurdo. Progress NC Action is working hard to defeat her.)

Thanks to Progress NC Action, it's now on the public record that Losurdo, a high school graduate from California, lived in New Orleans for a time, worked in a strip club there — but only briefly, she says, and as a cocktail waitress, not a stripper — and declared bankruptcy because of unpaid credit-card debts. She then enlisted in the Air Force.

According to Losurdo's sketchy campaign accounts, she somehow went from being in the Air Force to, three or four years later (that lack of a resume makes it hard to give precise dates), working as an account manager for the old First Union National Bank in Charlotte.

Here's where it gets a bit dicey. Losurdo's claim is that she was "an Account Manager for First Union National Bank, overseeing all small business loans in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina equaling a portfolio of over $2 Billion."

Account manager? Overseeing?

When I first read her statement awhile back, I took it to mean that she worked for a bank with lots of loans and her job was to process the payments and chase after the non-payments. What else could it mean, given that she had neither a college degree nor any prior professional experience?

Banks, after all, have a way of inflating titles. The typical bank has four or seven levels of vice president (senior, regional, associate, assistant, you know) in between its "managers" and anyone with an actual executive job. I understood Losurdo to be saying, I wasn't a clerk. She didn't claim to be a loan officer.

Still, when you have almost no work experience to tout, and you exaggerate what little you've got, you open yourself up to the charge that you've misrepresented yourself. That's what Losurdo seems to have done, suggesting to audiences that she was somehow in charge of a $2 billion loan portfolio as a part of her "vast" managerial experience. Not surprisingly, Progress NC Action called her on it.

So after first trying to stonewall the subject, Losurdo is now attempting to use it to her advantage. She was too an account manager, she insists. What's more, Progress NC Action is a left-wing attack organization which is attacking her viciously in an effort to derail her candidacy.

Earlier today, Losurdo taped a TV debate at WRAL with her opponent, incumbent District 3 member Kevin Hill. (The program, "On the Record," will be aired at [time corrected] 7:30 p.m. Saturday.) I hear that David Crabtree, the moderator, grilled Losurdo on the subject of her banking credentials to the point that she was forced to say that she'd back up her claim with evidence — today.

Thus, Losurdo has called a press conference for 6 p.m. this afternoon. I plan to be there.

***

In the meantime, here's some background material to consister.

First, here's the email I sent a week ago to Dennis Berwyn, Losurdo's campaign manager:

Dennis — I'm hearing a lot of questions about Heather's work experience, including her statement on the Indy questionnaire about "vast experience in management and leadership roles."

I'd forgotten that she made that statement. My sense was, rather, that she'd never claimed to be a leader in anything until the Northern Wake GOP.

Someone sent me this reconstruction of her background (I've copied it below). Would you check and tell me if it's accurate or, if not, what's inaccurate about it?

(Does she has a detailed resume or equivalent that I could see?)

From what I see in her history, she worked for a bank for a few years in what must've been a low-level administrative role (or else they gave an upper-level job to someone with no college degree).

She worked in direct sales for awhile.

Am I missing something that would constitute "vast experience in management and leadership"?

Thanks,
Bob

Here was Berwyn's reply:

Hey Bob,

Thanks for the email. I appreciate you reaching out to us. I really
don't see an opportunity to respond to your query. I think that what
seems to be an effort by our opponents to 'Palinize,' Heather
shouldn't be encouraged.

Thanks again for the email,
Best
Dennis

Here's the outline of Losurdo's history that I attached to my email. I got it from a source who is not in her camp politically; before I passed it on, I did my own background check using Accurint, which confirmed all of what's listed. (Amazing what's online about where you've lived, where you've owned property, where you've gone bankrupt):

1989 - Graduated Encinal High School, Alameda CA
01/89 - 02/93 Alameda CA
10/92 - 02/93 New Orleans LA
06/93 - Joined Air Force, Sheppard AFB TX
12/93 - Bankruptcy filed CO (with AFB TX address, about $20K debt, mostly credit cards, car loan)
05/94 - Bankruptcy complete CO (with AFB TX address)
1994 - Married Craig Losurdo? (Claimed on Facebook married 17 years)
95/96 - Charlotte? Left USAF? (Claimed in IndyWeek lived in Charlotte 5 years)
04/97 - Charlotte purchased 1st house
07/98 - Charlotte 1st child
1998 - Charlotte possibly went on maternity leave & did not return? (Based on MySpace statement)
04/99 - Charlotte purchased 2nd house
10/99 - Charlotte 2nd child
08/00 - Charlotte sold house
2000 - Moved to NY, Saratoga Springs, via Oswego
2004 - Got started in Arbonne International direct sales
2005 - Moved to TN, Arlington/Barnett
2008 - Moved to NC, Raleigh

What's not in the outline above is any employment dates for Losurdo's First Union gig. For that, we have to extrapolate from Losurdo's MySpace entry, apparently written in 2007. It indicates — in the part under "About Me" — that she left First Union in 1998 during her first pregnancy. That would mean she worked there for about four years.

Previously, we learned that Craig Losurdo, Heather's husband, ran into legal trouble in connection with his job in New York State as assistant manager of a plant that routinely employed undocumented (i.e., illegal) immigrants. Losurdo took a plea bargain, admitting to a misdemeanor and cooperating with a federal investigation. The Losurdos thereafter moved to Tennessee, and three years ago they came to Raleigh.

***

Finally, here's what Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action, had to say this morning about her refusal thus far to provide a detailed resume:

Despite evidence of an embellished resume, Wake School Board candidate Heather Losurdo continues to refuse to hand over professional references or HR documentation of her time at First Union. The News & Observer has been waiting since Thursday, Oct. 27.

“This is the definition of padding your resume,” said Gerrick Brenner, Executive Director of Progress NC ACTION. “Not only is this behavior the wrong message to send Wake County students, but it is totally unacceptable for someone asking voters to trust them with their votes. Ms. Losurdo should either provide documents to back up her claims or she should withdraw from the race.”

On Tuesday, Thad Woodard, President of the NC Bankers Association questioned Wake School Board candidate Heather Losurdo’s claim that she oversaw a $2 billion small business loan portfolio.

According to the News & Observer, Woodard said, “If the resume is correct and she has no formal education beyond what is listed, it would be hard to fathom that any bank would hire someone with a personal bankruptcy and without a much higher level of formal education to handle that kind of function.”

Throughout her campaign, Ms. Losurdo has referenced her bank experience as a qualification for public office:

On her official campaign website, Ms. Losurdo claims "she was an Account Manager for First Union National Bank, overseeing all small business loans in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina equaling a portfolio of over $2 Billion."

She repeats the same claim in the 2011 North Carolina Voter Guide.

In a campaign mailer Losurdo claims, “After the Air Force, Heather began a career in small business banking where she was an Account Manager, overseeing a portfolio of small business loans of over $2 billion."

During her closing statement of the District 3 candidate forum in September she said, “I have a professional background in the small business banking industry where I was in charge of a loan portfolio of over $2 billion.”

In her WRAL candidate statement she claims “I was in charge of a small business loan portfolio of over $2 billion.” Clearly, Ms. Losurdo has used her bank job as major qualification for public office.
In her WRAL candidate questionnaire she lists “small-business banking, accounts portfolio manager” as experience.

In the Independent Weekly questionnaire she claims, “vast experience in management and leadership roles, in the U.S. Air Force, Small Business Banking, and many volunteer positions in PTAs, schools and as a mother of two girls…"

In a Chamber of Commerce questionnaire, Ms. Losurdo claims, “My background in the military, small business banking and community volunteerism brings a plethora of leadership experience along with an “out-of-the-box”, solution-oriented mindset.”

Yet, Ms. Losurdo shows no record of a college degree and filed a personal bankruptcy in 1993 loaded with credit card debt. The 1993 Chapter 7 bankruptcy, filed in federal bankruptcy court in Colorado and signed by Ms. Losurdo, lists only two former employers - the United States Air Force and the Crescent City Cabaret, a strip club in New Orleans.

"How does one go from the Crescent City Cabaret in New Orleans, to a personal bankruptcy, to no college degree, and then to a banking position just a few years later in which one is 'overseeing' ALL small business loans in two states and a $2 Billion loan portfolio?" asks Brenner. “The claim just doesn’t add up.”

"Losurdo had no staff and had no authority over the loans. At best it's an embellishment. At worst, it is an outright attempt to mislead the voters. We expect school board members to be role models for our children. Candidates should hold themselves to a higher standard.”

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