USCP union election gets nasty, with outside unions weighing in

Endorsement by DC Police Lodge criticizes Officer Harry Dunn

Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Labor Committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted November 15, 2021 at 4:38pm

The head of Washington, D.C.’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge is facing criticism for using his platform to advocate for the election of Gus Papathanasiou over Harry Dunn in the upcoming Capitol Police union leader election by sending an email blast to his members.

On Friday, the lodge, under the leadership of President Gerald Neill Jr., sent an email to the group — composed of many area law enforcement entities, including the Metropolitan Police Department, FBI and Capitol Police — touting the Park Police union’s endorsement of Papathanasiou in the upcoming Capitol Police union election Thursday.

The Park Police union’s endorsement from its chairman, Kenneth Spencer, supports Papathanasiou while taking veiled shots at Dunn. 

“Gus understands that our officers can, should, and do have allies on both sides of the aisle but, unfortunately, some would rather carry water for one political party regardless of what is in the best interest of officers,” Spencer said. “Our brothers and sisters in blue need an effective advocate, not biased political bluster.”

Dunn, a Black officer, testified before the Jan. 6 select committee to recount the violence and racism he endured from supporters of former President Donald Trump as they stormed the Capitol.

Spencer describes Papathanasiou as a “pro-officer workhorse” and goes on to say, in an apparent reference to Dunn, that the union does not need a “self-serving showhorse.”

Papathanasiou has led the union for the past five years. Dunn has not held leadership positions in the union but is an experienced officer, approaching 14 years of service. Dunn has also backed efforts to establish an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the insurrection. When that was blocked by Senate Republicans, Dunn advocated for the Jan. 6 select committee, before which he testified in July.

Capitol Police Officer Andy Maybo, past president of the D.C. lodge, said in an email to Neill and other members that it was improper to send out the email blast and that Dunn deserved an apology.

Maybo, who used to be chairman of the Capitol Police union, questioned the unprecedented nature of the lodge getting involved in the labor committee elections of a specific department.

“Let me first ask you, at what point, or when in the past, has LODGE #1 EVER GOTTEN INVOLVED IN A LABOR COMMITTEE ELECTION???????...THERE IS NO REASON THAT THE LODGE SHOULD HAVE PUT OUT A CONSTANT CONTACT EMAIL MESSAGE REGARDING THIS ELECTION,” Maybo wrote.

He said he was “appalled” at the actions of the lodge and that they undermined the upcoming election.

“Never once have I EVER seen the Lodge stoop to such low levels as to get their ‘buddy,’ and fellow Board member, elected,” Maybo said in an email Saturday. “You have completely violated the democratic process of the upcoming US Capitol Police election and owe an explanation to the DUES PAYING members of the US Capitol Police, as well as the Lodge membership.”

Maybo also said Dunn is owed an apology and that the email solicitation should be retracted with an apology and explanation to all members of the lodge.

“Although he may not be mentioned in the Park Police ‘endorsement,’ everyone is aware that Officer Dunn is running for President of the US Capitol Police Labor Committee against current Chairman, and a member of your current Board of Directors, Gus Papathanasiou,” Maybo said. “The fact that this Lodge would allow such demoralizing words about a member to be published is beyond understanding. Calling Officer Dunn a ‘self-serving showhorse’ and a ‘Political Bluster’ is disgusting. The Chairman of the US Park Police Labor Committee should be ashamed of himself for not only making such disparaging remarks, but for inserting himself in an election that does not even affect his Labor Committee.”

Papathanasiou and Dunn declined to comment.

Neither Neill nor Spencer returned requests to comment.