Remember that woman in Virginia who flipped off President Trump’s motorcade in 2017 and then was fired from her job? She ran for office and won her election on Tuesday night.
Juli Brinkman became infamous overnight when she was caught by a photographer’s camera as she gave President Trump a one-finger salute. He was traveling through Sterling, Virginia. She was on a bicycle and the motorcade passed her as Trump was returning to the White House after golfing. When she informed her employer about the gesture, she was fired. The company for whom she worked relied on government contracts. Brinkman was fired for violating the company’s code of conduct policy.
Brinkman argued at the time that she wasn’t at work when she aimed her gesture at the motorcade, which is true. But, she did proudly post the photo on her social media accounts and outted herself as the unidentified cyclist, so her story was out there quickly. Once her identity was known, the rest of her bio, like where she was employed, was public knowledge. Hence, the company’s dilemma.
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) November 6, 2017
Brinkman won a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, defeating the eight-year Republican incumbent. She has not previously held elected office. She used her now famous gesture in her Twitter hashtags as she thanked voters.
Looking forward to representing my friends & neighbors in #Algonkian District who backed me up today! So proud that we were able to #FlipLoudpun #FlipVA #LOCO219 Thank you Loudoun! https://t.co/vRcDUih1AP
— Juli Briskman (@julibriskman) November 6, 2019
Ms. Brinkman decided to run for office and made the announcement in 2018. She said she was a longtime activist in the community.
“You might know me as the woman who was fired for flipping off the Presidential motorcade,” Briskman wrote in her campaign announcement. “And while it may be the most public display of my political opinion and activism, I have been deeply involved in the Loudoun County community for nearly 20 years.”
At the time she filed as a candidate, reports noted that the GOP incumbent won an election in 2015 by 4.5 percent. And Loudoun County is historically Democrat-controlled.
Volpe, who has been on the board since 2012, won her 2015 contest by 4.5 percentage points, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror. Loudoun County historically votes for Democrats on the state and federal level, the Washington Post notes, but Republicans maintain control of the county board, 6 to 3.
So, in other words, Brinkman took an opportunity presented to her and sought revenge for her loss of employment after giving Trump’s motorcade the bird. She also benefitted from the current politicial atmosphere, I might add.
Briskman told The Post that she didn’t consider running for office until last October, when she was forced out of her government contracting job.
“We have a right to peacefully protest and criticize and express dissent toward our government,” she told The Post.
“I’ve gotten some feedback that folks say you should respect the president. Even if you don’t like what they’re doing, you shouldn’t show this sort of disdain. And I simply disagree, and I think the Constitution grants me that privilege.”
Just as she has the right to voice her opinion, her employer also had the right to fire her. Virginia is an at-will employment state. She sued her employer and won severance pay, though that was originally denied to her. She chose the right time to run – Democrats were victorious in Virginia in Tuesday’s elections.
Briskman’s victory came on a night that also saw Democrats prevailing in Virginia’s statehouse. Democrats won control of Virginia’s House and Senate, erasing the thin majorities held by Republicans. Democrats will hold all three branches in Virginia’s government for the first time in a generation.
Her mistake was publicly breeching the company’s code of conduct policy. She probably would have gotten away with her crude expression had she not marketed herself on social media as the woman who flipped off the president’s motorcade – looking for some public adoration from the anti-Trumpers on social media. She got the attention she sought but it put her employer in a bad spot, as the company is a government contractor.
She is now on her way to being a public official. Perhaps she will at least give lip service to serving all of her constituents, not just the like-minded ones. If the tweet above is any indication, though, it looks as though she probably won’t do that.