Portland Timbers drop sponsor DaBella amid misconduct allegations

The Portland Timbers cut ties with jersey sponsor DaBella Exteriors on Wednesday after allegations emerged that company CEO Donnie McMillan, Jr. made unwanted sexual advances and sexually harassed at least three female employees.

According to The Oregonian, the allegations came to light as the result of a lawsuit filed by former DaBella CFO Lowell "Greg" Swartz, who claims the company never paid him money he was owed after he was fired in 2022.

The Oregonian added that last week, Swartz filed a motion to compel McMillan and DaBella to produce certain internal documents that Swartz's lawyer said will reveal the complaints. The lawsuit itself doesn't accuse McMillan of sexual misconduct. But in court filings, Swartz claims that as DaBella CFO, he oversaw settlements paid to women who came forward with accusations about McMillan.

Upon learning of the accusations, which were included in a filing that was made public on Feb. 23, the Timbers terminated the shirt sponsorship. All images and signage relating to DaBella have been scrubbed from the team's website, and are in the process of being removed from Providence Park, the Timbers' home venue.

"The Timbers and a third-party firm conducted a thorough pre-deal vetting process, and the club did not learn of the filing until Feb. 27," the Timbers said in a statement. "This decision was rooted in the responsibility we have to our fans, supporters, partners and employees to transparently reflect and uphold the values and expectations of our community."

D.S. Berenson, an attorney for DaBella, denied the allegations, calling them "absolutely ludicrous" and an attempt by a disgruntled former employee to secure a large payout.

The Timbers have been attempting to mend their image following multiple scandals involving the organization, which until recently included the NWSL's Portland Thorns. An investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 criticized the team's handling of alleged misconduct involving former Thorns manager Paul Riley, who was accused of engaging in harassment and sexual coercion of two Thorns players.

The report stated that even after firing Riley for cause in 2015, owner Merritt Paulson and then-GM Gavin Wilkinson gave positive references so that Riley could find employment elsewhere.

The Timbers organization was also criticized for its handling of an alleged domestic violence incident in 2021 involving then-Timbers midfielder Andy Polo. While criminal charges weren't filed in the case, earlier this month a Multnomah County jury ordered Polo to pay $600,000 in damages to his estranged wife, Génessis Alarcón after finding Polo liable for assault and battery.

MLS fined the Timbers $25,000 for failing to report the incident in a timely fashion.

DaBella was named the Timbers' jersey sponsor starting this season, replacing Alaska Airlines. The Timbers will wear jerseys without a sponsor name across the chest until a new one is found.

"I think for me as a manager of this organization, the decision that we took made me really proud because I think when there's that much money involved and invested, the easy thing to do would have been just to keep quiet," coach Phil Neville said at a media availability Thursday. "I think the front office, the ownership made the right decision, proud of the decision that they made.

"The values that we stand for at this football club both on and off the pitch with our community, with our supporters is far more important than any dollar."