Executive Director of Visit St. Mary’s MD Says he was Terminated Because of his Personal Political Opinions

June 11, 2020

Jason Aul

Jason Aul was selected by the Foundational Board of Directors of Visit St. Mary’s MD, to lead the tourism organization in July of 2018.

Aul came to St Mary’s County from Washington, D.C. where he managed tourism and brand management with Brand USA, an organization dedicated to marketing the United States as a tourism destination.

Aul holds a Masters of Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Public Policy Focus, from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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Jason Aul, who was the Executive Director of Visit St. Mary’s MD, sent SMNEWSNET the following email on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

For Immediate Release:

Yesterday, I was terminated as Executive Director of Visit St. Mary’s MD due to my personal political opinion. My Board of Directors communicated this to me through phone calls and text messages and declined my request for a meeting. I was explicitly terminated due to private and personal criticism I expressed of President Trump in the wake of our country’s tragic events. I did so privately, on my own social media platform, away from the job and on my own time in a manner that in no way pertained to my work.

I wrote these comments in good faith, believing that in Maryland, the birthplace of religious toleration, an employer carrying out public functions would certainly respect the personal expression of my personal opinions in a manner that in no way, shape, or form related to my work. However, sadly, I was mistaken to believe this. The substance of my views did not pertain to my work in any way.

In short, this was nothing more than a political hit on my personal political beliefs, plain and simple. Not once during my tenure have my political beliefs played a part of my work. Not once, during my years of service to the County, have I made decisions based on the political beliefs of others. Not once have these ideas crossed my mind.

I have retained a lawyer to protect me from additional attacks and violation of my labor rights.

These are trying times, there is no denying. This issue is bigger than myself. It is an attack on our collective freedom of expression, freedom of ideals, and freedom of speech. As I have posted on my personal Facebook in the past, in regards to my opinion of President Trump:

“I will continue to live my life as best as I can, love who I love, be friendly with whom I am friendly, and work diligently with all my colleagues and business partners. You can have the complete opposite policy position of mine on all issues, and it [will] not be a bother.”

This is the ideal that I have tried to impart, and an ideal that we should all strive for – political opinions are secondary to how you treat your friends, family, and colleagues.

It is my wish that we soon come together to see beyond our political differences and work together as a nation.

Yours, in tourism, friendship, and in health,

Jason Aul

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On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Regina Faden, Ph.D., the Executive Director of Historic St. Mary’s City sent SMNEWSNET the following email.

Visit St. Mary’s MD Begins New Chapter

Beginning today, Visit St. Mary’s MD (VSMMD) and Executive Director Jason Aul will end their relationship. Mr. Aul was the tourism agency’s first director and held the position for approximately two years. Under his leadership, a new identity was established for VSMMD and progress was made on key strategic priorities.
The change in leadership will allow VSMMD to refresh the tourism effort and to bring new energy toward goals and strategies contained in the Tourism and Hospitality Master Plan.

The Board will soon embark on a widespread effort to attract a new leader to VSSMD. The recruitment process will allow for consideration of local, regional, and national candidates for the position.

VSMMD is a non-profit created to carry out tourism duties on behalf of St. Mary’s County. Previously, these duties were within the responsibilities of the County’s Department of Economic Development. After a comprehensive review of tourism that resulted in the Tourism and Hospitality Master Plan, the County pursued a recommendation to separate tourism functions from County government in order to provide a more flexible and nimble tourism organization. Although the agency is a separate non-profit, all of the funding is provided by St. Mary’s County. The County provides oversight to the agency, has a seat on the Board of Directors, and provides free office space.

VSMMD’s website can be found at https://www.visitstmarysmd.com/

Questions may be directed to Board Chair Regina Faden at ReginaF@digshistory.org or (240) 895-4963.