Two former workers and one current staffer in Mark Zuckerberg's private family office accused his former personal security chief of racist and sexist conduct, including using the n-word, calling an employee a "ghetto hoodrat," and calling Black Lives Matter a "terrorist organization."
The accusations come from previously undisclosed sworn declarations made last year, in which the workers pledged to repeat their claims under oath if necessary.
In 2019, after two other former staffers raised almost identical complaints about Booth and threatened litigation, Zuckerberg hired an outside law firm to investigate the claims.
At the time, Zuckerberg's spokesperson said the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing and that the charges "could not be substantiated." Booth voluntarily left his job and the family office said in a statement that it was "grateful for his service."
Zuckerberg's spokesperson said that current employee has recanted her sworn declaration and that it contains inaccuracies. The law firm that drew it up responded that "current employees can sometimes be pressured to change their affidavits."
Mark Zuckerberg's former head of personal security was accused by colleagues of using the n-word, calling a Black employee a "ghetto hoodrat," and denigrating the Black Lives Matter movement, according to sworn declarations obtained by Business Insider.
The declarations, signed under penalty of perjury by two former workers in Zuckerberg's secretive family office and by one still employed there, offer shocking new details of allegations against Zuckerberg's former security chief Liam Booth and cast doubt on the Chan-Zuckerberg family's claims that an investigation found no evidence of racism or abuse during his tenure.
Booth was first accused of misconduct by two different former colleagues in 2019, including sexual harassment, racism, and homophobia. At the time, Zuckerberg's personal spokesperson Ben LaBolt said the family office had investigated the claims and found no wrongdoing by Booth, who departed his job after Business Insider first reported on the accusations.
The new allegations contained in the declarations corroborate some of those earlier claims about Booth's conduct. All three begin with pledges that "the following facts are within my personal knowledge and if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto, under oath."
In response to a Business Insider investigation into Zuckerberg's family office published in February 2020, LaBolt dismissed allegations of sexism, racism, and bullying within the Chan-Zuckerberg household as "a collection of unfounded rumors, exaggerations, and half-truths ... advanced by a small group of disgruntled former employees who are attempting to defame the family office."
But one of the workers who gave a statement that she "witnessed Mr. Booth engage in behavior I considered to be sexist, homophobic, and sexually harassing" remains a current employee of the family office, Business Insider has learned.
The family office continues to deny all allegations of misconduct.
Zuckerberg's family office faces multiple misconduct allegations
Zuckerberg and Chan employ a sprawling family office, called West Street, to manage their household affairs — from hiring nannies for their two children to maintaining their lavish resort in Hawaii. It's run through Iconiq, a secretive financial-services firm that provides investment management and family office functions for the ultrawealthy.
Over the past few years, West Street has been rocked by worker allegations of misconduct by senior managers. In addition to the accusations concerning Booth, Hawaii property manager Shawn Smith was accused by a former coworker of physical assault, and security staffer Laura McClain and medical staffer Jaeson Rosa were both accused of harassment. The family office has denied all the allegations.
The two former staffers who first leveled accusations against Booth hired civil rights attorney Lisa Bloom to represent them. The Bloom Firm prepared demand letters laying out their allegations in March 2019, and Business Insider obtained them and first published details from them in May 2019.
The newly obtained declarations were also drawn up by the Bloom Firm, seemingly to support the two staffers' claims. One is signed by a former senior manager of executive protection, one is from a female former security staffer, and the third is from a current female administrative staffer. Business Insider is withholding their identities because they may face retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, and have not gone public with their allegations. All three declarations were signed in September 2019. The former senior manager of executive protection's was signed by hand, while the other bear electronic signatures.
Business Insider was able to directly reach two of the signatories. One confirmed their declaration's authenticity, the other declined to comment, saying, "I don't know anything about any document."
"As previously addressed, most of these allegations have been advanced by a small group of disgruntled former employees...who are attempting to defame the family office after the family office refused their demands for multi-million dollar payments following their separation of employment," LaBolt said.
"Our family office follows a strict code of conduct that requires appropriate behavior from all members of our teams. It is our expectation that each of our employees adheres to this code of conduct. Any complaint made to our HR personnel is taken very seriously. We investigate each and every complaint, including, when appropriate, engaging outside counsel to conduct such investigations."
LaBolt said that the current administrative staffer now disputes some of the claims contained in the declaration bearing her name, and has signed a new sworn declaration that, he said, recants some of those statements —suggesting that the declaration prepared by the Bloom Firm doesn't accurately reflect her testimony.
But LaBolt did not dispute that the staffer signed the Bloom Firm declaration, and refused to provide a copy of the new declaration without an agreement that it would be treated as off the record, which Business Insider declined. LaBolt would not make the staffer available for an interview.
In response, Lisa Bloom defended her firm's practices, and said that workers can be pressured to change their statements by employers.
"It is our practice in every case to keep careful records of all email communications leading up to sworn affidavits. All sworn affidavits, if any, were obtained after direct close consultation with witnesses, who then reviewed and signed them under oath," she said in a statement.
"It is our belief, after years of legal experience, that witnesses who are current employees can sometimes be pressured to change their affidavits."
'Black Lives Matter bullshit'
The declarations contain serious, previously unreported allegations against Booth, a former Secret Service agent whose since-deleted LinkedIn profile described him as serving on President Barack Obama's personal security detail.
The former senior manager of executive protection alleged that Booth told him Black Lives Matter movement was a "terrorist organisation," and described a female worker, who is African American, as a "ghetto bitch," a "hoodrat," and a "cunt."
The female security worker said that Booth "stated that he was 'tired of all the Black Lives Matter bullshit,'" and that he "often used the word 'n-----' to label African Americans."
Additionally, she alleged that Booth "once [called] Ms. Chan a bad driver while deliberately making his eyes narrower," and that he "balked against Priscilla Chan's goal that the workforce be more diverse and employ more people of color."
These statements line up with some of the allegations in the demand letters, which similarly alleged that Booth made racist remarks about Chan's driving ability, that he "bragged that he thwarted" her diversity hiring efforts, and that he called the Black Lives Matter movement "reverse racism."
All three of the workers claimed in the declarations to have heard Booth use homophobic language. The administrative staffer said Booth "made homophobic jokes" at the expense of a gay staffer, while the former senior manager of executive protection and the female security worker each said they heard him use the slur "fag."
The female administrative staffer's declaration also corroborates a claim made in one of the demand letters: That Booth slapped the crotch and groped the buttocks of a gay staffer at a July 2018 event.
The female administrative staffer said in her declaration she was present at the event, and that she "did observe Mr. Booth place his hands on [that staffer's] buttocks that night ... [He] told me that the nonconsensual touching made him uncomfortable." She also alleged that Booth sexually harassed her that evening, wrapping his arm around her waist and sexually propositioning her.
She wrote that she complained to West Street's managing director Brian Mosteller and HR director Monica Moorhouse about Booth's behavior, but that to her knowledge no investigation was launched.
LaBolt said that she now denies seeing Booth harass the other worker.
"The new allegations have been largely refuted by the individual in question. This individual has recently signed a sworn statement making clear that in drafting the previous declaration attributed to her, the Bloom Firm mischaracterized what she told them and included inaccurate statements and exaggerated claims drafted by their attorneys, including that she witnessed any inappropriate touching, which she expressly denies," he said in a statement.
Zuckerberg's spokesperson has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing
After the demand letters first became public, West Street flatly denied the allegations.
In July 2019, LaBolt said in a statement that Zuckerberg had engaged the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olsen to investigate the claims, and that they "could not be substantiated" after "numerous interviews with Mr. Booth's colleagues as well as a review of other relevant documents and information." The statement also said that the family office had conducted its own internal investigation, which likewise found no evidence of wrongdoing. Nonetheless, the statement said, Booth was leaving to minimise "distractions."
It added: "The family office is grateful for his service and wishes Mr. Booth the best in his future endeavors."
It's unclear if any of the three workers who signed the declarations were interviewed by the family office or MTO in the course of their investigations. The female administrative staffer's declaration claimed that she raised concerns about Booth to human resources.
The former senior manager of executive protection left in August 2019, meaning he was still employed by West Street when LaBolt said in July 2019 that its investigations found no evidence to support the first two staffers' claims. The female security staffer left in July 2018.
LaBolt declined to comment on whether any of the three were interviewed as part of the investigations, or what they said if so, citing "employee confidentiality."
In response to the new documents, he stood by his claims that the investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing: "The family office has previously addressed the allegations against Liam Booth by the Bloom Firm. Over the course of several weeks, both the family office's HR personnel and Munger, Tolles & Olson conducted separate investigations into these allegations. These investigations included numerous interviews with Mr. Booth's colleagues, as well as a review of other relevant documents and information. Following these thorough investigations, the serious allegations made against Mr. Booth by the Bloom Firm could not be substantiated. As stated at the time, Mr. Booth, who is fully aware that minimizing distractions is a key component to executing his duties as head of security, chose to move on from the family office to pursue other professional opportunities in July 2019."
Other staffers also face accusations of harassment
The female security worker, who was a contract worker with a third-party company used by the family office, also claimed in her declaration to have been sexually harassed by a family office medical staffer in January 2018, and that, to her knowledge, management took no action after she complained about her treatment.
She said in her statement that on a trip to one of Zuckerberg's properties in Montana, medic Jaeson Rosa made "sexual overtures towards me and [demanded] that I allow him to enter my room to use the shower." She said she reported it to Booth and McClain, as well as an unnamed "personal assistant" to Zuckerberg, but that "nothing was done," adding: "No investigation occurred. Mr. Rosa's behavior was not corrected."
She also claimed that McClain, who is gay, asked her in April 2018 if she was "wearing a bra at work," at the direction of Booth, which left her "disturbed and outraged."
Business Insider first reported on the allegations against Rosa in February 2020. At the time, spokesperson LaBolt said that the family office had no record of any complaint from her and that Booth and McClain couldn't recall receiving one, which he reiterated in a new statement. "Our HR personnel have no record of receiving any complaint from her. We understand that she voluntarily resigned from her position with the third party in 2018," he said.
One of the earlier two staffers also accused McClain of misconduct in their demand letter, alleging McClain texted her asking her to "bend over in a certain way so that Ms. McClain could see her buttocks."
Rosa and McClain are both still employed by the family office.
Mark Zuckerberg has not directly commented on the allegations
Mark Zuckerberg has not commented publicly on the allegations against his employees, and his spokesperson declined to make him available to discuss them. A Facebook spokesperson similarly declined to comment, while law firm MTO and family office management firm Iconiq did not respond to requests for comment.
Iconiq has been outspoken about workplace matters in other areas. In response to the ongoing protests against racism across the United States, the firm recently updated its website to include a statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
"We will increase our efforts to unlock the power of diversity in the workplace and engage underrepresented minorities in business," it pledged. "Through ICONIQ Impact, our platform for collaborative philanthropy, we will further harness our network to help those who are neglected, mistreated, and oppressed."
Do you work at West Street, Iconiq, or another private family office? Contact Business Insider reporter Rob Price via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 650-636-6268), encrypted email ([email protected]
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