The Duchess of Sussex feels strongly about paid family leave. In October, she wrote an open letter to senators in support of the issue, and she’s been working with PL + US for months now, actively lobbying and cold-calling Republican senators. All of which has caused a series of hilarious meltdowns from the British press, because “paid family leave” is apparently a hyper-political issue and not a basic, common-sense solution for struggling families. That’s not all though: one of Archewell’s senior strategic advisor Genevieve Roth has also been lobbying and supporting efforts on behalf of pro-paid leave groups.
A top adviser to the Duchess of Sussex has been privately helping the behind-the-scenes effort to pass universal paid leave legislation — with one of the groups she consults for engaging in talks with the White House. Genevieve Roth who runs Invisible Hand, a “social impact and culture change agency,” is a senior strategic adviser for the Archewell Foundation, Markle and Prince Harry’s charitable organization. Roth has also been working with PL+US, a nonprofit advocacy group campaigning for universal paid leave to be included in the social spending package, aka Build Back Better, that Democrats are hoping to pass through budget reconciliation this month.
PL+US, along with the group Paid Leave for All, have been in touch with the White House and members of Congress, according to a Democratic strategist with close ties to the White House. That includes calls and emails with JENNIFER KLEIN, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, and staffers at the Office of Public Engagement.
“I can confirm that we have collaborated with her [Roth] and the Duchess’s team on the issue of paid leave, but I can’t go beyond that,” PL+US spokesman NEIL SROKA said.
The White House didn’t respond to questions about whether Markle has had any meetings or calls with officials about paid leave. Neither did Roth.
… The advocacy groups aren’t giving up hope [even though PFL seems to be dead in the Senate]. Biden 2020 campaign pollster CELINDA LAKE appeared in a Zoom meeting for PL+US with reporters today, where she said that the absence of paid leave in the final Build Back Better law would send a devastating message to women voters in the midterms.
“It’s not a secret. It’s not a novel finding that Democrats are having trouble breaking through on messaging. I think the major message … to the elected officials is, ‘this is a huge missed opportunity in an area we need,’” Lake said. “We desperately need to define what is in these packages. We desperately need to convince voters to tune into what we’re doing and that what we are doing delivers for them and their families.”
I mean… Celinda Lake seems to be putting this at the feet of Democrats who already support the paid family leave expansion. She seems to be saying: if only dumb Dems could come up with a better catchphrase, magically Sen. Manchin would come to Jesus. Arguing that Democratic women won’t show up for Democrats in the midterms because Republicans and right-wing Dems are kneecapping PFL is the emptiest of threats. That’s not how any of this works. Meghan knows that’s not how it works either, which is why her people are working behind-the-scenes, all while Meghan refuses to back down from her public position supporting PFL. Meghan is doing the right thing politically – I’m not sure everyone on Team Paid Family Leave is on the same page though.
Photos courtesy of YouTube, The Ellen Show, the NYT.
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