Maine Gambling Control Unit (MGCU) Executive Director Milton Champion is back on the job after the state meted out discipline to him for social media posts that displayed a misogynistic attitude and defended a violent white supremacist group.
While Champion has apologized for the posts, questions remain about his fitness to fulfill the role moving forward. Champion may have learned to be more judicious about his conduct on social media but that is no guarantee that the attitudes behind his speech have changed.
MGCU director suspended for concerning Twitter comments
In May, Champion issued two posts on social media that became the subject of an investigation. The first of them used a misogynistic slur and directed it toward women. The second addressed the violent actions of a white supremacist group at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and characterized them as being better than “burning down cities and looting stores.”
Three days after creating the second of the two posts, Champion went on administrative leave according to Michael Shepherd of Bangor Daily News. After an investigation, authorities in the state saddled Champion with a week-long unpaid suspension. Additionally, the state required Champion to complete training on workplace harassment and the state’s social media policy.
NewsCenter Maine reports that Champion did not refute the allegations against him. Rather, he committed to complete the requisite training and issued a statement.
“While the two tweets were intended to be humorous, I recognize they were anything but. They were a mistake and an error in judgment, and I apologize for my actions. I thank the employees of the Unit for their hard work and commitment in my absence.”
According to the Bangor Daily News, Champion has since deactivated the Twitter account he used to post the comments in May. As of Monday, July 10, he has returned to his position as MGCU’s executive director. Given what Champion revealed about himself in the comments, however, there are questions about his fitness for the role.
Champion’s attitudes and biases could impact Maine’s gambling industry
The issue moving forward for the gambling industry in Maine is not as much about whether Champion has erred but about how the attitudes he displayed could influence his conduct moving forward. In his statement, Champion apologized for his comments but did not address why he felt using a sexist slur and defending white supremacists made for acceptable comedic fodder.
While Champion may never publish similar social media posts again, that does not guarantee that such attitudes will not influence other behavior. As the executive director of the MGCU, Champion holds tremendous sway over the gaming industry in the state.
Attitudes fueling his prior actions could result in unconscious bias influencing his decisions regarding matters like licensing and personnel. While it’s possible that the requisite training Champion committed to completing could give him tools to address those implicit biases that many people harbor, Champion must possess the motivation to use those tools.
Moving forward, the onus is on Champion to demonstrate that he can fulfill his duties without prejudice. On that subject, all of his decisions moving forward warrant scrutiny.