The Miami college student’s tweet circulated quickly online among thousands of people.
“A marijuana conviction disqualified me from working on the [Elizabeth Warren] campaign,” Nicholas Dore tweeted Monday, adding that Bernie Sanders “is the only candidate fighting for criminal justice reform.”
But the truth, as it tends to be, was more complicated.
Dore’s conviction wasn’t for simple pot possession, but driving under the influence of marijuana. And online court records showed he had felony charges for burglary and grand theft pending at the time, though Dore says the case was dismissed in July and kept open only while he finished a pretrial diversion program.
The Warren campaign said it had no knowledge of Dore’s marijuana-related case when it decided not to hire him, so his tweet was “completely inaccurate.”
Dore, 20, who studies political science at Miami-Dade College, said he first dedicated himself to Warren’s campaign after hearing her speak at a town hall in July. Impressed by her inspiring life story and progressive platform, Dore signed up to volunteer for her campaign. He hosted events and knocked on 155 doors, pitching Warren’s ideas to residents across Florida. The campaign singled him out in an internal email as a “knock star.”
In October, Dore applied to become a field organizer for the campaign, a paid position. He went through several interviews and eventually was offered the job, he said, contingent on a background check.
Dore knew he had two criminal incidents in the recent past, but he had been hired for other jobs since. He figured his cases weren’t bad enough to impede his prospects especially with the Warren campaign, which called for legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, and second chances for ex-convicts.
In the first arrest, in 2018, Dore said, he was in Forsyth, a rural city in Georgia, parked with his car and headlights on outside a smoke shop but not in a parking spot. Police found his vehicle suspicious, Dore said, and they smelled marijuana. He said he smoked pot earlier that day and had some on him. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of marijuana, he said, and received probation.
In the second case, in January, Dore said his friend stored two computers at Dore’s house, without disclosing that the friend had stolen them from a previous workplace the friend still had a key to. When Dore found out, he said, he went to the police and reported his friend. The friend was arrested and convicted, court records show, while Dore’s case was dismissed in July and officially closed Dec. 20 after he finished a pretrial diversion program.
“I did the right thing,” Dore said. “I knew that I was disqualified from some jobs, but I also just believed in good work ethic. I believe in second chances, and that’s what progressive values are all about.”
Several details of Dore’s cases could not be independently verified by the Globe Tuesday.
After running his background check, the Warren campaign rejected Dore. He asked why. He said he received a phone call from the campaign’s human resources department identifying his marijuana impaired-driving conviction as the reason.
Dore grew angry. He deleted his Facebook posts supporting Warren. He fired off his tweet.
“The way I see it, she doesn’t practice what she preaches,” Dore said, “if she’s denying people a job in her campaign because of nonviolent criminal records and records that were closed.”
Soon the tweet amassed 2,000 retweets and 9,000 likes.
Reactions poured in, with Sanders supporters cheering.
“Happy to have you on the team,” a Sanders fan wrote. “Together we are going to change this broken system. We must legalize and expunge past records.”
Warren supporters questioned the story. Some demanded answers.
“This is really really really really disappointing,” wrote one Twitter user, tagging Warren. “Could you please answer for this? You’re my currently my most likely vote, but this is concerning.”
Others reacted with jokes and finger-wagging.
“Bernie for burglars!” someone wrote.
“Y’all are fraud progressives if you’re going to demean someone who was never even convicted. gross,” another person tweeted.
The Warren campaign contacted Dore and asked him to delete the tweet, adding that his burglary charge was a factor in the decision and that if the case closed, they would reconsider the hiring decision, Dore said.
The Warren campaign declined to comment on the reason for Dore’s rejection, other than to deny knowledge of the marijuana impaired-driving case.
Despite the online uproar, the kerfuffle is unlikely to affect the Warren campaign as it likely wouldn’t sway an undecided voter, said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University.
Berry said Dore’s criminal background signal potential red flags in someone’s judgement that could potentially embarass a political candidate, the first concern in hiring decisions campaigns must make on the fly, he said.
“I don’t want this guy working for me either,” he said.
Berry found the hypocrisy charges unfair to Warren, who, like Sanders and many of the other Democratic presidential candidates, favors legalizing recreational and medical marijuana possession.
“She’s never come out in favor of minimizing operating under the influence charges,” Berry said. “I don’t know of any major politician advocating that we shouldn’t treat operating under the influence as a serious crime.”
For now, Dore said, he would try to apply for an internship with the Sanders campaign.