Right-Wing Organizer Uncovered in Seattle IWW

submitted anonymously

Selena Coppa named as Washington state leader for Stand Up Republic, April 2018 (four months after she had joined the IWW).
Stand Up Republic Board Meeting, August, 2018. Selena Coppa is the sixth from the left, in the back. Several prominent Republican personalities are also pictured, including Evan McMullin, Mindy Finn, and Tara Setmayer.


We are releasing this information as a service to all comrades who may have interacted with Selena Coppa in the past, or who might interact with her in the future. She has a long history of involvement in organized right-wing politics, which continues to this day. She also has a long history of attempting to bully and silence anyone who challenges her or asks questions about her right-wing ties. She is currently doing this in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). She also did this in Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) between 2008–2011, during which time she was an active-duty military intelligence officer.
It is particularly urgent to come forward with this information now, as the IWW’s executive board has recently voted to give Selena access to the membership database, with information about all of our members. The risk of what she could do with that information is too great to allow it to happen. She has attempted for months to get into a variety of positions which would give her access to the database, without success. She recently tried a different approach and requested that the board grant database access to one of her new positions, which they granted.
It is impossible to know exactly what she is doing. We can’t know for sure that she is an ‘infiltrator’ in the sense that is usually understood, whether from the state or the far right. However, based on what we do know, we are convinced that she poses a real threat to any community she interacts with:
  1. She is currently a very public leader of a Republican organization called Stand Up Republic (under the name that she claims she doesn’t use).
  2. She was a member of the “Ted Cruz Leadership Team”, a delegate at the 2016 Republican National Convention and a donor to the Republican party. She has lied and retaliated against anyone who has asked her about this past, claiming that asking her about this amounted to ‘doxing.’
  3. She has documented extremely destructive behavior in the IWW. She played a huge role in the destruction of the Job Branch at Grassroots Campaigns Inc (GCI) in Seattle, and in the decision of the Seattle GDC local to leave the organization. She has continued her destructive behavior on the national level.
  4. All of this is paralleled by her past activity in the IVAW, when she had documented ties to far-right activists, caused disruption that led many members to leave, immediately sought positions of power, and bullied and harassed her opponents. Even ten years later, many members reference her as a possible infiltrator.

Further background

Selena’s effects were felt first in Seattle. She has a lot of ‘credit’ for being one of the leaders of the organizing campaign at Grassroots Campaigns Inc. Yet several former workers at GCI credit her with destroying the internal solidarity of the job branch, and of pushing an agreement that legitimated the office closure, against the democratic decision of the job branch not to even consider such an agreement.
She has contributed heavily to an increasing level of tension between the Seattle IWW branch and the Seattle local of the General Defense Committee (GDC), the largest IWW branch and GDC local in North America respectively, which has come to a head with the Seattle GDC leaving the organization.
Recently, the Seattle IWW had one of their meetings infiltrated and recorded by a Patriot Prayer member, and they appear not to be taking this seriously at all. We suspect that Selena may be part of the reason why this is not being taken seriously — as we detail below, when she was in the IVAW, she fought for right-wing anti-IVAW groups to be allowed to maintain an armed presence at IVAW events.
We have been aware of Selena’s ties to organized right-wing politics, and her destructive behavior, since October (although we continue to find new details). We don’t think it is acceptable to wait for four months to release information like this, and did not do so willingly; during that time, she has caused a significant amount of damage. There were several reasons why we did not release this information earlier:
  • •Most importantly, we were aware that if this came from outside of Seattle, it could be felt by members in Seattle as an attack on their entire branch. This could have the effect of creating a sense of solidarity with Selena. We also knew that some members of the Seattle GDC were becoming aware of Selena’s right-wing ties, and were beginning to organize locally around this. We wanted to give them the priority to be able to deal with this. We thought it was their responsibility to inform the organization about this since they had previously sided with Selena when she claimed to be doxed (which we will return to below).
  • •Several of us have been active in internal political debates in the IWW, which have sometimes been quite intense. We wanted to avoid a situation where other members that we have struggled with would try to dismiss this whole thing as ‘just politics’ (or worse). We think this is too important to dismiss in that way, and we hope that people who have politically disagreed with us will be principled enough to agree with that. We wanted to do everything we could to avoid even the possibility of this being viewed through the lens of the political conflict in the IWW. We will also note that this information is not something we have discussed within any caucus or larger group of members.
  • •We also did everything we could to avoid having this information come out piecemeal or in small chunks. We quickly identified a pattern where anyone who asked Selena about her right-wing ties, or said anything indicating any knowledge, became a target for attack. This was later reinforced by the accounts of IVAW members of her history of targeting members in that organization. We knew that piecemeal revelations would be easy to dismiss or obscure, and even worse, would put people at risk for retaliation.
  • •Finally, we want to acknowledge the absolute seriousness of this kind of accusation. We are all militants of long standing, who are well aware of the problems that were caused in the 1960s by frivolous accusations that individuals were infiltrators or provocateurs. We take our responsibilities as militants very seriously, and cannot walk away from the overwhelming evidence we have found. It is our duty to share this. We believe that we are handling this in the most principled and responsible way possible, and hope that this document can serve as an example for militants in the future, inside or outside the IWW, who may face similarly destructive people. In order to facilitate this, we will “show our work” of how we pieced all of this together, rather than obscuring it.

Piecing the puzzle together

We first encountered Selena during the IWW Convention in September. For the most part, we had good impressions of her there, and actually formed connections — several of us would go on to keep in touch with her over text messages and phone calls during the weeks after Convention. There were, however, a few things which gave us strange vibes at Convention. We did not take these seriously at the time, but in hindsight they stand out.
The first thing was that, when ballots were being counted, the General Secretary Treasurer (Travis Erickson) was helping the ballot committee to organize all of the information they were recording.1 This was a normal part of the bureaucratic minutiae of Convention and is something every GST has done for as long as any of us have heard of. Selena filed a formal charge against the GST with the result that they had to step away from doing this.
What is strange here is that the formal charges process was used as it creates an implication that the GST was doing something unethical, rather than simply an established part of their job. It would have made much more sense to simply bring this up on the floor of the Convention as a possible concern and ask the delegates for a recommendation. We didn’t think this was a huge deal at the time as we thought it might just be a first-time Convention delegate not knowing the best route to take.
Removing the GST from the ballot committee was incredibly disruptive to the work of the ballot committee, and led to many problems downstream with knowing who had been nominated or elected, problems which Selena would later blame the GST for.
The Convention also saw an issue around a conflict. Some members of one branch expressed anger towards a prominent member of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), accusing that member of embezzlement and harassment. Selena immediately assumed that member’s guilt and was heavily antagonistic toward them. We later found that Selena attempted to spread misinformation about that member during the national prison strike in the Fall of 2018.
The last thing that seemed out of place at Convention was a comment by Selena and one of the other Seattle delegates that the GDC had tried to ‘take over’ the Seattle branch by all signing up to the IWW, coming to meetings, and voting.2 To us this didn’t sound like ‘taking over’. It sounded like democracy. We suspended judgement because we didn’t know the full story, but we did think it was unprincipled to make these kind of claims at a forum like the Convention without backing them up. We also recognized the possibility at the time that members of the GDC probably saw it very differently.3
After the Convention, many of us maintained contact with her. But we began to notice very strange behavior as she became very active on IWW communication channels nationally. One recurring theme was that one of us would have a very in-depth conversation with her on a topic over several hours, and it would seem like we were completely on the same page. Yet shortly after that she would send an email that was the exact opposite of what she had said during those phone calls. For example, one of us had a two-hour long call with her about an organizing campaign we were involved with that was somewhat controversial or misunderstood; it seemed that she totally understood our perspective on this campaign, but then sent an email supporting the skeptics of this campaign.
About a month after Convention, one of us searched online for ‘Selena IVAW’ because they had heard she’d been involved in organizing resistance while in the military and were genuinely inspired and curious to find out more about that organizing. From there, they found the dozens of articles detailing her participation in the 2016 Republican National Convention as a delegate for Ted Cruz (many more links in our references). They brought this up to some comrades to ask if anyone knew about this, as it seemed a bit strange. None of us had seen these articles before, because they were all about ‘Selena Coppa’, while she had mostly (but not exclusively) used the name ‘Selena Caldera’ in the IWW. Nobody made a huge deal of it at the time.
Shortly after that, another comrade reached out to Selena to ask her about this in a genuine attempt to make sure that any concerns could be addressed. Rather than addressing the concerns or acknowledging (for example) that she might have been a conservative at one point who had undergone a political transformation, she was immediately hostile, evasive, and caused this member to doubt the sincerity of their sources, even manipulating them into ‘confirming’ that Travis had given them Selena’s name (which they have since acknowledged was not the case). This would be the origin of her so-called ‘doxing’, which we will return to.
As we delved deeper into the mystery of what was going on with Selena, we encountered numerous people (mostly in Seattle) who had some vague knowledge that she had been a Cruz delegate at the 2016 RNC, and were not surprised when we asked about this. In almost every case where someone knew about this, they had an equally vague notion that she had ‘infiltrated’ the Republican party in order to disrupt it. A smaller number of folks had a similarly vague idea that she may have been a genuine conservative in 2016 but had transformed her politics, or were willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
In our opinion, either of those could have been possible, but in either case it would be the responsibility of a militant to be honest about this kind of history when asked. We could understand why someone might not want to broadcast this loudly, but when a comrade reaches out to them one on one with genuine questions about former involvement in organized right-wing politics, evasion and hostility are completely unacceptable. Even leaving everything else aside, this in itself would be grounds to question someone’s involvement in an organization or movement.
It is not possible to know the origin of this notion that Selena had attempted to ‘infiltrate’ or ‘disrupt’ the Republican party, or that she was a converted former conservative, but it seems reasonable to supposed that they came from Selena, particularly the first one. At the least she seems to have been aware that some people knew of her past and had these ideas, and did nothing to discourage them.
As we continued to pick at these loose ends, we came across the evidence that Selena was currently a very public organizer for a “Never Trump” Republican organization called Stand Up Republic (SUR), based around Evan McMullin (former CIA operative and presidential candidate) and Mindy Finn (a prominent Republican strategist and VP candidate on McMullin’s ticket).4 The first announcement about her from SUR was in April of 2018 (after she had joined the IWW) and there was another one from September (around the time of the IWW Convention).
This made it clear that she was not simply a former conservative who had transformed, or that she had tried to ‘disrupt’ the Republican party. She is clearly a current dedicated and prominent right-wing activist with ties going back several years, at the least. From what we found of her activity in the IVAW, she may have active ties to right-wing organizing going back to at least 2008. We will document her destructive activity in the IWW first, and then show the parallels with her behavior in the IVAW.

Selena’s role in destroying the Job Branch at GCI

Some of us have been active in supporting the Grassroots Campaigns, Inc campaign on a national level. Through that, we had contact with some of the GCI workers in Seattle. What they told us of Selena and the Seattle branch officers’ activity around GCI shows egregious violations of the most basic principles of the IWW, and shows a clear pattern of harmful and abusive behavior waged against the GCI workers. At this point, out of 12 GCI workers who were members when the office was closed in August, 10 are out of the IWW and want nothing to do with it. Only Selena and one other remain as IWW members.
The workers we spoke with explained that there had been a very active and strong Job Branch at GCI in Seattle which was constantly engaged in direct action on the shop floor. In one of their words, “it was like we were holding lightning in our hands, it was the most powerful thing I’ve ever been involved with.” The GCI Job Branch was an exemplary model of solidarity unionism. They didn’t bother with formal negotiations; they would drop everything at the smallest provocation from the boss. The one time they did try negotiating, it was clearly bullshit, and they voted not to ever do that again.
Then, at the end of July 2018, GCI announced that it was closing the office. The Job Branch held a meeting on August 2nd to discuss their response. (Selena could not attend, as she was on the other side of the country attending a Board meeting of the Republican organization she is a “grassroots coordinator” for!) The Job Branch decided that they would not negotiate over the closure, and would instead engage in a campaign of direct action across the country, which began later that week. The Job Branch saw the office closure as a crystal clear example of an attempt to retaliate against organizing and chill organizing elsewhere, and believed that they had a very strong case with the NLRB, which could supplement their direct action campaign.
The branch had an “outside rep” for this campaign, CM, who was also not at the August 2nd meeting.5 CM was the one who was in email contact with the company. CM and some other officers had recently proposed a “Campaigns Committee” and were very upset when some members were critical of it. This had led to tension in the branch, to the point where CM was only speaking with Selena, not with any of the other workers.
Despite neither of them having been at the meeting, and despite the job branch voting against negotiation, Selena told CM to contact the bosses and arrange for negotiation, which they set for late August. This forced the job branch to have a meeting in mid-August where they discussed whether to accept this negotiation happening. Again, neither Selena nor CM were present. The Job Branch voted to allow the negotiation to happen, but under the strict condition that they would consider nothing less than either reopening the office, or 1 year’s severance pay. Nothing else could even be brought back to the Job Branch for a vote.
At the negotiation session in late August, Selena, CM, and another GCI worker were there for the union. When the other GCI worker presented the Job Branch’s demands, Selena and CM laughed at those demands, and said that they weren’t serious — all in front of the employer.
Selena and CM then proceeded to accept GCI’s first offer: a positive letter of recommendation for each worker, preferential re-hiring if GCI ever re-opened an office in Seattle, and three weeks of pay. According to the mandate from the Job Branch this proposal should never even have left the bargaining table, but Selena brought it back to the Job Branch and pushed very hard for them to accept it. Other workers were skeptical that accepting three weeks pay would be seen as legitimizing the office closure, but Selena was insistent that she had “done the research,” and repeated over and over that this was “free money” — that accepting this money would not mean accepting the office closure.
Based on these assurances, the Job Branch voted to accept the agreement with the “free money” while still planning a campaign of direct action to force the company to reopen the office, supplemented by their legal case with the NLRB. They did take a temporary break from direct action in order to get the checks from GCI, as they were worried that GCI might simply disappear.
Once they had all received their checks, they wanted to start engaging in direct action again, but Selena insisted that they hold off on direct action indefinitely, seemingly to make the company more willing to negotiate in other locations, such as New Orleans (where the union had just won recognition). Around mid-September there was a planned day of action coming up, and the Job Branch held a meeting to discuss details. Selena came to the meeting insisting that the workers hold off on all direct action since the company was acting “in good faith” and that any provocation could hurt the union’s ability to negotiate with them at New Orleans, or other offices where we might gain recognition.6 The other workers insisted that they wanted to fight to reopen the shop, but Selena broke down into tears and claimed that she was being victimized, and refused to allow the workers to bring this to a vote. The GCI workers we spoke with clarified that they had been in touch with everyone involved in the campaign around the country, including New Orleans, and that everyone supported them escalating the direct action in September to force the company to reopen the office — it was only Selena who was opposed.
Around the start of November, the NLRB ruled on the Job Branch’s case. They ruled in favor of a few minor claims, but they rejected the Job Branch’s claim about the office being closed in retaliation for organizing — on the grounds that accepting “free money” meant that they actually had accepted the office closure, and that therefore this had “constituted an outside settlement about the status of the shop.” In other words, the Job Branch may have had a very strong case if they had not been persuaded to accept the agreement by Selena, but the agreement that she persuaded them to accept invalidated their entire case.
Adding salt to the wound, in December the Seattle General Membership Branch’s “Campaigns Committee” proposed to disband the Job Branch and fold the Job Branch’s hardship funds into the GMB’s hardship fund.7 This proposal was made based only on the word of Selena and one other GCI worker that things had wrapped up, without any clear understanding why. Eight of the members of the Job Branch signed a collective letter to the GMB bringing forward their concerns, calling on the GMB to take their concerns seriously, provide transparency about what had happened, and have Selena step back from organizing while that was getting sorted out.
The response is both chilling and enraging. The GCI workers who brought this open letter were accused of ‘targeting’ Selena. Their concerns were completely dismissed by the branch officers, while one GCI worker was forced into a very uneven ‘mediation’ process. The Job Branch was disbanded over the protest of the GCI workers, with the only concession being that they would have until January 1 to distribute the hardship funds before folding them into the GMB hardship funds. One of the most exciting and public campaigns that the IWW has engaged in in recent years was killed off secretly and quietly.
These actions are a clear violation of the most basic and fundamental principle of the IWW: that the workers on the shop floor are the union. We approach negotiations very skeptically, because we understand that they remove power from the shop floor. Deliberately going against the decision of a job branch in negotiations and siding with the boss against the job branch’s proposal is egregious. Even if Selena or CM can claim that they made a ‘mistake’ by thinking that this agreement would not count as accepting the office closure, this ‘mistake’ was only possible because of the actions they had already taken to violate shop floor democracy. But even if everything around the negotiation had been a ‘mistake’, the actions of the branch officers in December show clear and intentional action against the Job Branch — Seattle branch officers moved to disband the Job Branch, and when 2/3 of the job branch members protested against this, Seattle branch officers dismissed them by accusing them of ‘attacking’ Selena, and brushed aside all of their claims.
We have to acknowledge here that although Selena’s role in this story is huge, there is also a lot of responsibility to go around among the Seattle branch officers. We hope that there will be a move among Seattle branch members to ask for transparency, hold their officers accountable, and reflect on how the kind of structure and culture which allowed this to happen was created, and what it will take to dismantle it. Nevertheless, with Seattle branch officers having successfully driven most of their internal critics out of the branch, it is hard to imagine branch members successfully organizing to demand transparency and accountability, and to undo this authoritarian structure and culture. We hope we are proven wrong.

Attempt to spread rumors about a prominent IWOC member during the prison strike

During the Prison Strike in the fall of 2018, Selena made numerous attempts to spread rumors a prominent member of IWOC whom we will call X. Selena seized on rumors that X had misappropriated funds, rumors which have since been investigated and found to have no merit. Selena messaged both national IWOC and Jailhouse Lawyers Speak (JLS) to ‘warn’ them about X.
This is a textbook example of the kind of stuff that was happening with COINTELPRO during the 1960s. Among the many horrible things that Selena has done, this is one of the worst. X had never done anything to Selena. Selena’s actions had the possibility to really hurt a dedicated militant as well as do serious damage to IWOC, and they could have caused a lot of tension between IWOC/IWW and other groups involved in the prison strike such as JLS. JLS works very closely with IWOC, and it would have been very harmful if Selena’s intervention had caused a rift between JLS and IWOC. Fortunately, IWOC and JLS were both incredibly principled in their response, and Selena’s attempts to sew doubt during the strike went nowhere. We will note, however, that these are just the attempts that we know about. It is possible that Selena may have spread rumors about X with other organizations who might not have been principled or experienced enough to respond this way or to share that information. If so, we hope they will come forward now.
It isn’t clear to us if Selena had a strategic reason for targeting X in this way, or if she just saw an easy opening where she could help to push a prominent and dedicated member off-balance, and possibly also contribute to mistrust within the IWW as well as with allied organizations.
Selena reaching out to national IWOC to spread rumors and cast doubt on X
Selena spreading rumors X with Jailhouse Lawyers Speak. Note that here she makes a concrete claim that X was ‘mishandling’ money, and was ‘removed from handling money’, which was not true.

False claims of doxing during IWW election, and retaliation against critics

Similar to her attempt to spread rumors about X, Selena has attempted to completely destroy the reputation of Travis Erickson, the current General Secretary Treasurer of the IWW and a longstanding militant. Travis has a long history as an ally against patriarchy as well as bureaucratism in the IWW. Given how hard Selena was targeting Travis, we believe it is also important to note that this attempt to drag his name through the mud happened during the IWW’s internal elections. Another member from Seattle (CM, the same officer she had been working with during the GCI campaign) was running against Travis. Selena implied that she would take the role of paid membership coordinator (with database access) if CM won.

“The Doxing”

On October 26, a member of the union who had found out about Selena’s role as an RNC delegate in 2016 and had concerns reached out to Selena to ask her about this background and try to address those concerns. Selena not only refused to answer any questions, she convinced that member that someone was targeting her, that it must be Travis targeting her, and that this member shouldn’t trust anyone who had concerns about Selena.
This spiraled into repeated claims by Selena as well as the Seattle IWW branch that Travis was using his access to the database to ‘dox’ Selena by releasing her name, which according to Seattle was supposed to have been kept secret.
This claim is ridiculous for a couple of reasons:
  1. Anyone is free in the IWW to use any name they want. There is no requirement to use a legal name. This includes the name in our records.
  2. Selena’s name was used at multiple points in the IWW prior to this. Her name was used openly at Convention. It is in a variety of IWW emails dating all the way back to April of 2018. Many, many people knew her name. There was no reason to assume it was Travis who shared her information (which it wasn’t).
  3. Selena uses her name openly in her right-wing organizing. This is not just in the past, as with the 2016 Republican National Convention, but also with her current organizing with Stand Up Republic. This is very publicly posted on their website and Twitter.
  4. Even setting everything else aside — asking a comrade about their conservative past in a private conversation is not ‘doxing’. This is a basic responsibility for militants to exercise relational security. Anyone with former links to the organized right-wing (which organizing for Ted Cruz certainly counts for) who genuinely changes their politics and joins a radical organization is responsible at a bare minimum for engaging honestly with people who ask them privately about that past.
When Selena and the Seattle branch claimed that Travis had ‘doxed’ her, there was little response from the rest of the organization. They called for Travis to be removed from office and even expelled from the organization. They seem to have expected an uproar, which didn’t happen. It seems that a lot of members of the union were waiting for the proof of the doxing, which never came.
When they didn’t receive the expected outrage over ‘doxing’, they switched tactics, and attempted to connect Travis to a completely separate issue regarding a sexual assaulter whose survivor had recently come forward.
We have to stop here and acknowledge that this is a tricky thing to discuss, because the survivor who came forward requested that their experience not be politicized, and it seems that many have tried to do so, Selena most of all. We respect the survivor’s wishes, and so will only say as much about this situation as is necessary to explain the ways that Selena tried to manufacture a connection between it and Travis.
Around October, a person came forward about sexual assault that a former IWW officer (whom we will call ‘Y’) had done to them in the past. This brought up a stalled complaint that someone else had previously made about Y with the Conflict Resolution Committee on Matters of Gender (CRC), which Travis has no influence over.
Selena created a narrative that Travis had somehow tried to cover all of this up, even implying that she was some kind of whistleblower and that the ‘doxing’ had been in retaliation for that. Selena also claimed to be speaking for the survivor that had come forward, saying that the survivor agreed with Selena acting for them — but this claim only ever came from Selena.

The Seattle GDC

The crisis which Selena engineered around the so-called ‘doxing’ was also the catalyst for driving the Seattle GDC to break from the larger IWW. When the Seattle Branch Secretary claimed that Selena had been doxed on October 26, some members of the Seattle GDC immediately declared solidarity with her, despite their political disagreements. Selena successfully convinced the GDC that Travis had ‘doxed’ her in retaliation for trying to expose him. In a letter on November 13, they declared that they would be going on a dues strike until Travis was removed from office and from the GDC, and pinpointed the Twin Cities GDC local (the second largest, after Seattle) as the problem. This is the kind of language that usually leads to a split, and is very difficult to walk back from, as we will see later.
Their solidarity based on what they had been told was right and correct. They knew that they had political differences with Selena, and political agreement with Travis, but they stuck with her as a matter of principle. This was based on the narrative that she spun that she was being targeted as a ‘survivor’. From their perspective, they did not want to ally with someone who they agreed with politically if they thought that person had helped to cover up a sexual assault or defend an aggressor. We agree with that perspective and think that it was the right one, given the limited information at the time.
However, they soon learned that they had been lied to, and that what Selena was claiming as a ‘doxing’ wasn’t one by any stretch of the imagination. Moreover, they learned that Selena had lied to them about Travis’ involvement in the issue, or even his ability to have had any involvement in his role as an officer. When formal charges were filed against Travis, the committee that investigated them came to the following conclusions:

That it appears FW GST Travis was not made fully aware of the initial charges filed against FW [Y]

That on the part of FW GST Travis, we find no verifiable evidence of negligence regarding his conduct as an IWW officer

That there is no evidence FW GST Travis obstructed the complaints process or pigeon-holed the complaint filed with the Conflict Resolution Committee in the Matter of Gender (CRC)

Overall, none of these attacks on Travis have stuck directly. However, they have created a general sense of unease around him with a lot of principled comrades, who seem to feel that if there’s this much smoke, there must be some fire there. This has happened on a national scale with members of the IWW as well as people in its orbit.
Obviously, this is difficult as the entire history of the left is filled with people covering up for militants accused of sexual assault, or of covering up for it. However, in this case, it is also important to recognize that while Selena claims to speak for the survivor, she is the only person who has said this. We want to reaffirm that Travis has a long history as an ally. He has put in a lot of work and taken a lot of risks in this regard, and all of the claims which Selena made about him have been shown to be false.
We also want to be clear that we do think there is a need for community accountability around this. All of us who were associated with Y, including Travis, need to grapple with the ways that we enabled Y’s toxic masculinity. The entire IWW also needs to grapple with the reasons that most of the leadership are and continue to be cis men, and the very deep ways that toxic masculinity is reproduced and bolstered within the organization. That is only possible if everyone involved is acting in good faith, and can’t work with the kind of misinformation that Selena has been trying to produce.
One of the other bizarre things that happened in this whole episode was that Seattle branch officers released a bundle of screenshots of the conversation between Selena and the people who had originally asked her about her past as an RNC delegate. Those people had never been asked for their consent to share those conversations, and they reached out to some of us as they felt manipulated and harassed by Selena. It is clear from looking at the conversations that Selena was trying to manipulate them into saying or believing that the information about her name and her past as an RNC delegate must have come from Travis. This closely parallels her behavior in the IVAW of screenshotting private conversations and cherry picking the parts to use for political leverage.
Finally, we will note that during one of the investigations against Travis, the General Executive Board independently found the evidence of Selena’s current activism with Stand Up Republic, and did not react or take any action. They actually wrote platitudes in their report about how “the IWW doesn’t have political litmus tests”, which might have discouraged people who found out about her history and current activism from asking about it. There is a bizarre parallel here with the out-of-touch IVAW leadership who took no action against Selena during her destructive period in that organization.

Seeking official positions

“Why can one person be on so many important committees? There are thousands of members.”

– A member of the former Seattle GDC

Selena has wasted no time in attempting to get herself into important positions in the IWW, in particular positions with access to the membership database. This parallels her behavior in IVAW, where she immediately ran for the executive board, and got herself into the position of membership coordinator.
In the early fall, she was nominated for the Organizing Department Board on the basis of her experience with GCI. This would have given her access to the database. However, she did not meet the requirements, and the nomination did not move forward.
A short period later, the IWW’s internal elections began. A member from Seattle (CM) ran for General Secretary Treasurer. If they had won, our central office (“GHQ”) would have moved to Seattle. Selena was a vocal supporter and implied that if CM won, she would be made the paid membership coordinator, another position with access to the membership database. A few weeks after this, while ballots were in the field, the claims of ‘doxing’ by Travis which we detailed above began. Selena was able to mobilize what seemed to be the entire Seattle branch (or at least all of the officers) as well as the GDC local to drag Travis’ name through the mud. This was despite the fact that many members of the Seattle IWW and GDC were also opposed to GHQ moving to Seattle and essentially wanted neither candidate to win. Despite all of the this, Travis received 60% of the total vote and was reelected.
Selena had also gotten herself nominated to multiple committees at the IWW Convention, all of which she was elected to:
  • Complaint Reform Committee: This committee is supposed to do a root and branch review of our internal complaint process — which almost everyone acknowledges is some combination of broken, harmful, or useless — and propose a thorough overhaul.
  • Restructuring Committee: This committee is supposed to propose a thorough overhaul of the IWW’s structure, to make it bottom-up, democratic, responsive, and scalable.
  • Conflict Resolution Committee on Matters of Gender: This is supposed to be a tool to support members facing patriarchal oppression. As we show below, there are members who know nothing else about Selena, but just based on the behavior they see from her, they know that they will never bring any concerns to this committee as long as Selena is on it.
  • Gender Equity Committee: This committee supports gender equity within the organization, assisting non-cis-men with travel costs, and supporting members as needed.
  • •She also ran for Central Secretary Treasurer of the GDC, which would have given her access to the GDC’s separate membership database. Fortunately, she was not elected to this position.
All of these committees are hugely important. Someone who is acting in bad faith could do a lot of damage, either preventing the committees from functioning, or even causing the committees to function in harmful ways. For example, they could propose reforms to the structure or to the complaint process which make them even more disempowering and dysfunctional.
We think that Selena’s election to the Gender Equity Committee and her lack of candor about her previous support for Ted Cruz and current involvement in Republican politics are particularly troubling. Cruz denies the existence of trans people. Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn, the directors of Stand Up Republic, are opposed to abortion rights. Even if we didn’t have the rest of her history and just knew about her connection to Cruz, members should have been able to ask about Selena’s connection to that and whether she would represent trans and non-binary members while on the GEC. But instead, people have been silenced through intimidation.
We also note that Selena quickly got herself elected as the co-chair of the Gender Equity Committee. She then showed up unannounced at the executive board’s in-person meeting in February to “report” for her committees, which she had not discussed with any of those committees. This was when she requested that the board grant database access to the GEC co-chairs. We have confirmed that the GEC never discussed this idea, and even the other co-chair was unaware of it. Selena apparently thought of it herself and brought it to the board without consulting with anyone else. The Board (almost all of whom were new) quickly agreed to give her this access, which could have huge consequences.
One non cis male member of the union who was an observer at that Board meeting, and who did not know any other context about Selena, had this to say:

So, I don’t know if I’m judging Selena unfairly here. Does anyone have insight that may alleviate my deep reservations?

I have serious concerns about Selena being on both the Gender Equity Committee and the Conflict Resolutions Committee on Matters of Gender [CRC], but especially the CRC.

My experience with her in this context was brutal. She asked inappropriate questions for intimate details about my past trauma despite me telling her multiple times that those specific events were unrelated to what happened in my branch. She asked me several times to explain the conflict in my branch, and I did in great detail, but she continued to question and make assumptions without even acknowledging that I had answered. She talked over me while asking all these questions. She displayed the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.

In other conversations in Red Card Holders [an informal IWW Facebook group] about Sexual Assault and abuse, I have seen her (in my opinion) show more concern for abusers than survivors. Her concern trolling makes me extremely uncomfortable.

I, personally, will never bring anything before these committees while Selena sits on them because I don’t trust her at all (it’s important to note that my experiences with her are limited). I’m worried others will be hesitant to bring their problems to them as well.

In my opinion, Selena is unqualified for the CRC and people who need help will be hesitant to reach out and utilize the solidarity and support they’re offering.

The split between the Seattle GDC and the IWW

“Selena is definitely part of the reason Seattle GDC disaffiliated from the IWW/GDC.”

-A former Seattle GDC member

After the Seattle GDC initially leapt to Selena’s defense as a matter of principle, several of their members began to piece together what was going on. Some of them had known about her being a delegate at the 2016 RNC and subscribed to the vague notion that she had been trying to infiltrate the Republican Party, but when they discovered her current involvement in Republican politics they began to take a very different view of this.
Everyone in the GDC who found out about her lies and connections to right-wing politics was universally disgusted and recognized her as a severe threat to the communities that they operate in. They had also been very close with the GCI workers (several of whom were GDC members), who also felt betrayed by Selena and the Seattle branch officers. The GDC members and GCI workers tried to bring all of this to the Seattle branch and it was dismissed, minimized, and shut down, mostly by the officers who associate with Selena.
This led members of the Seattle GDC to feel that they are unable to assume even basic good faith from IWW members, at least not from the officers. Even GDC members who want to engage in workplace organizing are no longer willing to associate with the Seattle IWW. This led to the GDC voting unanimously in January to disaffiliate from the IWW and GDC. As one member clarified:

“If we were in a different city, with an IWW branch that we felt we could work with, this probably would not have happened. But we can’t trust the local IWW, and we no longer felt national ties. We are not antagonistic to the national GDC, we just feel that we may be on a different path. However, we are antagonistic to the Seattle IWW.”

Selena’s history in the IVAW

Selena has been very vocal within the IWW about her past as an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW, now renamed as About Face), although she’s never said much more than that she had been involved. From her blog posts and comments from 2008–2011, it is clear that she was very close with right-wing, anti-IVAW bloggers. She received a lot of approval from them by name and made friendly comments on their blogs. At the same time, she showed very similar behavior in the IVAW to what we have seen in the IWW, leading multiple IVAW members to accuse her of being a plant or snitch for these right-wing, anti-IVAW groups. One former IVAW member shared their experience:

“You can go to any IVAW group and say ‘SC’ [e.g., Selena Coppa] as shorthand for a sellout and people will know what you’re talking about. If you tell any long-term member that they’re ‘more of a Blue Falcon than SC’ you’ll get punched in the face. [Blue Falcon is vet slang for someone who abandons their buddies under fire.] There’s nobody else in IVAW’s history who has that kind of reputation.

Back in 2008, we were doing Winter Soldier, it was a huge national effort. There were these Republican bloggers called the Gathering of Eagles who wanted to come and bring guns, which made our guys want to bring guns. She sided with the Republicans and fought hard to get the Republican bloggers in. It didn’t make sense. She was working to get our enemies there, always working to defend our enemies. This is part of what led to my suicide attempt back in 2008, we were doing this great thing and then she was trying to get our enemies there.

When a member named [Z] raised concerns about this, she claimed that she was ‘outed’, that somehow what he said had put her at risk by identifying her base or something. She brought a lot of pressure to drive him out. He left the organization, quit Facebook, and moved to Germany to get away from her.

She liked to play the victim a lot back then. She would agitate people and then take screenshots and share those with the leadership and try to get them kicked out. And of course, the other people weren’t screenshotting it at the time, so she would pick the parts of the conversation that made them look the worst. There’s at least 7 people she got kicked out this way, or pressured into leaving. [Z] and the others that she drove out weren’t officially kicked out, they left as a result of the tension she created. But then in a book that came out later, she frames it as her getting them expelled.8 If you can find the people she drove out, that she named in that book, you’re going to find seven people who hate that woman more than life itself. She also claimed in that book that I had faked my suicide attempt … I was blown away that she went around telling people that I had faked a suicide attempt.

She eliminates people one by one. She baits them and gets them to swear or something. It’s easy with veterans because we have PTSD. I still don’t associate with IVAW because of her. She’s either a horribly toxic person who doesn’t care about the causes she gets involved in or… it always seemed like she was intentionally disruptive, like she was intentionally trying to disrupt.

I couldn’t understand why our leadership (none of whom were combat veterans) weren’t seeing what she was doing. She wasn’t a combat vet and she was definitely trying to provoke our PTSD. When the Gathering of Eagles all decided they were gonna come armed, and the leadership didn’t take it seriously while she fought hard to get them there, that was when me and a lot of people left — because of her and the tension she created. Most people said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of a group that allows her,’ and saw it as a leadership failure. If her goal was to disrupt, it was effective.

If you confront her, you gotta do it public. She was good at the one on one fights. She’d single someone out from the herd, get them upset, get them agitated, trigger their PTSD so they would swear or something, and then screenshot them and use that to build tension against them until they left. She was able to drive out so many people because she would drive someone out and then keep going, so her opponents kept getting driven out. Nobody ever confronted her and got her kicked out.”

We have spoken with current IVAW/About Face members who have independently corroborated all of this, and also raised other troubling details. They recounted that Selena had been pushing hard to remove all socialists from the IVAW. They also told us that there had been a lot of suspicion of her at the time because she was somehow always able to come to every leadership meeting, even though she was an active duty military intelligence officer in Germany at the time, a situation which would normally make it very difficult to travel constantly to the US.
All of the members we spoke with were very surprised to hear that Selena would be involved in a union, especially one like the IWW, because of how consistently conservative she was within the IVAW, always trying to lead a purge of the ‘socialists.’ They were not at all surprised to hear that she had been an RNC delegate or was currently an organizer for a Republican organization. In 2009, while she was building this internal tension against the supposed dominance of socialists in IVAW, Selena wrote a blog post about her opposition to socialism. What she wrote speaks for itself about her deep opposition to socialism, but it also speaks to the level of discord that she was trying to create against socialists in the IVAW:

Some of those in the peace movement like to call me names because of these beliefs. They like to call me “jingoistic” or “nationalist”. A “reformist apologetic”. One prominent activist tells me that because I don’t believe in “class war” I need to get out of “their” movement.

Well, here’s a newsflash for anyone who may not have been paying attention at home. I don’t believe in socialism, and never will. What I feel about it is best summed up in the following quote:

“I am opposed to Socialism because of its inhumanity; because it saps the vitality of the human race which has no vitality to spare; because it lulls to indolence those who must struggle to survive; because the theories of good men who are enthralled by its delusions are made the excuse of the wicked who would rather plunder than work; because it stops enterprise, promotes laziness, exalts inefficiency, inspires hatred, checks production, assures waste and instills into the souls of the unfortunate and the weak hopes impossible of fruition whose inevitable blasting will add to the bitterness of their lot.” -Edward Adams

You’d better get used to that, folks. If you want to organize with me? Be aware. I will not support your hidden agendas. Your hidden agendas are poison to me. Have the courage of your own convictions, and keep to your own organization for it.

And if what I say here means that you won’t organize with me against the war? If what I say here means that you’re going to actually waste everyone’s time by organizing against me instead? By putting me on some hidden blacklist because I have a little too much patriotism for you to be comfortable with?

Then I’m sorry for you, but you need to recognize you’re just as much of a hypocrite as the people you claim to be organizing against.

There are many other strange details that still exist in fragmentary form as blog comments. It is hard to piece it all together, but anyone who wants to will find pages of interesting banter between Selena (usually under her blog name of ‘Army Sergeant) and right-wing, anti-IVAW bloggers. Here are some highlights:
  • •In 2009, Selena was elected to the IVAW’s executive board, with cheering approval from John Lilyea, one of the prominent right-wing, anti-IVAW bloggers.
  • •In 2010, Lilyea and some of his allies ran a FOIA on Selena and surmised that she used to be a ‘spook’ [e.g., some kind of spy].
  • •In 2010, Selena was finally removed from the IVAW’s board for violating the organization’s code of conduct. Lilyea tried to defend her, while at the same time he claimed that he had spies in the IVAW.
There are clear parallels between her toxic and destructive behavior in the IWW, and the behavior that she has exhibited in the IWW ten years later: singling people out for attack, manipulating conversations to have screenshots that could be used for leverage, seeking positions of power and aggressively shutting down anyone who questions her. There is also a strange parallel between the ties she maintained to right-wing activists at the time, and her contemporary organizing for Ted Cruz and Stand Up Republic.


Selena Coppa is a danger to any progressive movement that allows her to associate with them.
She is publicly listed as an organizer for a Republican organization at the same time that she holds office in the IWW. She has targeted and harassed anyone who has tried even gently ask her about her right-wing ties, in an effort to silence them. She has already contributed the largest local of the IWW’s General Defense Committee splitting from the organization, and has gotten herself into several prominent national positions where she will have a much amplified voice and ability to sew discord. She is also on the verge of gaining access to the entire membership database, which is an extreme and very imminent danger.
Her activity in the IWW closely parallels her previous activity in the IVAW, during which she maintained clear ties with right-wing, anti-IVAW groups, even arranging for them to have an armed presence at a major IVAW event. She attempted to arrange a purge of ‘socialists’ from IVAW, or a right-wing split against the supposed ‘socialist’ domination of the organization. She also engaged in targeted harassment of anyone who questioned her, and drove several members out of the organization altogether through this harassment, leveraging her status as an officer to bring extra weight against them. This led many more to leave the organization in disgust, especially when they saw no action taken against her.
We recognize that these are extremely serious accusations and are not making them trivially. We hope that people who have been political opponents of ours in the past will remain principled about this and recognize the danger that Selena poses to the organization as a whole, beyond different political perspectives.
We see this piece as the start of a conversation about Selena that has been needed for a long time, and has been suppressed. We do think that she should be immediately suspended from office, not given access to the membership database, and expelled from the union. However, beyond that, we think that members should begin asking questions, like why they have been kept in the dark for so long, who knew about this, how it was even allowed to happen that someone like her could so quickly play such a destructive role, and what we can do to prevent this in the future.
We don’t think that there is any way to sort this all out using the IWW’s internal complaints procedure. There is a concept from the old socialist and labor movements of a ‘Court of Honor’ for dealing with situations like this. This could be a promising way to piece this all together and figure out all of the damage she’s done in different organizations over the years. Some kind of commission like that should involve members from the Seattle (ex-)GDC, members from IVAW (now renamed About Face), as well as people from outside of the North American IWW, perhaps members from the IWW in the UK, or from some of the other unions in the International Confederation of Labor which the North American IWW is now a member of. We don’t think that such a commission should have members of the North American IWW on it, as part of the purpose should be to figure out all the points where things went wrong, and this would be better done from an outside and more objective perspective.
Ultimately, as individuals we think that there are deep structural problems with the IWW that allowed Selena to do all of the damage she’s done and which would allow her to do much more by so quickly getting herself into important positions, structural problems which can be fixed if they are addressed head on. However, we hope that even members who disagree with us about that will understand the danger that Selena represents, and agree that quick and decisive action needs to be taken.
For a militant union without snitches, plants, infiltrators, or covert right-wing organizers.


Stand Up Republic

2016 RNC Participation press coverage:

  • Delegate Selena Coppa said the speech inspired her. “I think it took a lot of strength to stand before a crowd, knowing that the RNC and Trump whips would whip up some booing,” she said.
  • Selena Coppa, an alternate delegate for Washington State, is a staunch Republican, if an unusual one in the nascent Trump era. She’s an ardent believer in free markets and the Second Amendment, but also believes that the federal government should invest in infrastructure and jobs programs.

RNC Fundaiser [5/11/16]:

Ted Cruz Leadership Team [4/30/16]:

Republican Party Donation of $900:


  • •Jonn Lilyea, a right-wing anti-IVAW blogger that Selena often engaged with, mentions having spies in IVAW
  • •Conservatives did a FOIA on Selena and said that she hadn’t been in Iraq, only Germany, but there were no other details. They speculate that she used to be a spook [eg, spy].
  • •An IVAW member accuses Selena of being a snitch/plant in the IVAW.
  • •A former IVAW member accuses Selena of working with right-wing bloggers to take down IVAW

Selena’s Blog:


1 We try to avoid identifying any other militants in this piece, aside from Selena. However, we are using Travis’ name, because Selena has gone to great effort to drag it through the mud and we think it is important to show what happened, and rehabilitate Travis’ name.
2 Although the GDC is a part of the IWW, someone can be a member of the GDC without being a member of the IWW, or vice verse.
3 We later got a perspective on this from some of the GDC members: many of them had gotten really excited about workplace organizing after supporting the GCI campaign, and had taken out Red Cards over the summer/early fall. Around this time, several branch officers were proposing a “Campaigns Committee” that would centralize all organizing. This proposal received a lot of criticism. The branch officers were very unhappy with the criticism, and used the “sudden” appearance of GDC members as a way to dismiss it.
4 Stand Up Republic paint themselves as “non-partisan”, but McMullin and Finn are staunchly anti-abortion and have long histories in the Republican party. Their website contains some gems such as arguing Chelsea Manning’s freedom “undermines government information security efforts.”
5 CM is currently the chair of the union-wide Organizing Department Board and Organizer Training Committee, and held those positions at that time as well. They later ran for General Secretary-Treasurer of the IWW with Selena’s support.
6 Around this time, on September 17, CM brought a motion to the Organizing Department Board to fund Selena to negotiate with GCI in New Orleans. This negotiation took place in October.
7 The hardship fund was important because the Job Branch’s hardship fund was open to any GCI worker, while the GMB’s hardship fund was only open to members. At this point, many of the GCI workers were behind on dues, either due to the chaos of the situation, or their disillusionment with the Seattle GMB. So this would have had the effect of preventing the GCI workers from even accessing their own hardship funds, and essentially would have looted them, to the benefit of the GMB.
8 This appears to be War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built by Nan Levinson, although there may be details in other books as well.