Wayne Messam is best known, if you’ve heard of him at all, as the other mayor running for president — in his case, not quite as successfully as South Bend, Indiana’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg.
The mayor of Miramar, Florida, has not found much of an audience or appeared in any debates. He has raised a mere $93,812 and assembled a campaign staff of about 20. And now, according to internal campaign documents and interviews with eight former Messam campaign staffers and contractors, his campaign appears to be in near-total disarray.
The documents and staffers, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect future employment prospects, depicted a no-hope campaign that nonetheless was embroiled in bitter disputes over money and control — a “D-list version of The Sopranos,” in one description. In particular, staffers claim that Wayne and his wife, Angela Messam, have refused to pay them for their work. All of the staff members and vendors that BuzzFeed News spoke with said they were never fully compensated for their work on the campaign and, in some cases, weren’t paid at all for expenses they’d fronted from their own bank accounts, including business cards for the campaign and flights, hotel rooms, and security costs for a trip to the Middle East. In some instances, staffers were told by the Messams that the couple believed them to be “volunteering” for the campaign, despite emails from senior staff to the Messams telling them about start dates for employees, and what staffers say were verbal agreements and offer letters from the campaign for their positions.