The first openly gay Chairman of California’s Democratic Party, Eric C. Bauman, is facing accusations of sexual misconduct.
On Friday, Daraka Larimore-Hall, the second vice-chair of the party, filed paperwork requesting Bauman’s removal and prompting the investigation.
Larimore-Hall says he has spoken to two victims, plus a witness Bauman allegedly intimidated. The victims were party staff members.
In his letter, Larimore-Hall stated, ‘I believe the victims. Their stories illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior.
‘This is unacceptable for a political organization dedicated to feminism, human rights and just working working conditions. Our activists and voters look to us as a force for social change, and we must embody the values we fight for in society.’
He did not reveal any details about the alleged incidents.
Bauman became chair of the California Democratic Party in May 2017. It is the largest State Democratic Party in the US. Previous to that, Bauman was vice chair from 2009-2017. His professional background prior to this was in nursing. He lives in North Hollywood with his husband.
After Larimore-Hall’s letter became public, several other California Democrats called for Bauman to step down. These included Rep. Ro Khanna (of California’s 17th congressional district). Khanna tweeted: The allegations of sexual assault that @DarakaKenric is filing against @EricBauman are shocking.’
The allegations of sexual assault that @DarakaKenric is filing against @EricBauman are shocking. CalDems should replace him with @mldauber who is one of the nation’s foremost scholars on sexual harassment & led the Persky recall campaign. We need a bold feminist to lead for 2020.
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) November 24, 2018
He suggested Bauman should be replaced with Stanford Profession Michele Dauber, ‘one of the nation’s foremost scholars on sexual harassment & led the Persky recall campaign,’ said Khanna. ‘We need a bold feminist to lead for 2020.’
‘I look forward to putting these allegations behind us’
On Saturday night, Bauman issued the following statement in response to the allegations.
‘I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain.
‘To that end, a prompt, thorough and independent investigation of the allegations has been undertaken by a respected outside investigator, ensuring these individuals making the charges are treated with respect and free from any concerns of retaliation.
‘The California Democratic Party should and will be the model for how allegations like these are treated to ensure fairness and to determine truth. Procedures are in place to handle these matters, and independent counsel will ensure that they are followed.
‘I look forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats.’
UPDATE: Bauman steps down
On the evening of 26 November, a few hours after this story was published, Mike Roth, spokesperson for the California Democratic Party, issued the following statement.
‘After taking the holiday weekend to consider the most constructive path forward for the work of the California Democratic Party, Chair Bauman has made the decision to take a leave of absence as Party Chair effective at 5:00 pm today and through the conclusion of the independent investigation being conducted by a respected outside investigator.
‘In accordance with the Party Bylaws, First Vice Chair Alexandra “Alex” Gallardo Rooker will assume duties of the Chair during this period. As acting chair, Ms. Rooker will exercise her independent authority and work with staff to ensure that the day-to-day work of the party continues uninterrupted.
‘Chair Bauman believes this decision is the best way to ensure the independence and integrity of the process. The Party is confident that the procedures in place will allow for all parties to come forward freely and provide for a thorough and complete review.’