The Chairman of the California Democratic Party, Eric Bauman, is currently being pushed to resign by fellow staff members over allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
It’s unclear how many victims have come forward with allegations, but in a letter sent to California Democratic Party members on November 24, Vice Chair Darika Larimore-Hall openly called for Bauman to resign and filed paperwork to begin the process the day before.
“Obviously, it is completely unacceptable for Chairman Bauman to remain in office given these credible, corroborated, and utterly heart-breaking allegations,” Larimore-Hall wrote in the letter. “After he ignored my demand for him to resign, I filed charges calling for his removal as Chair with CDP Secretary Jenny Bach.” The letter did not go into details about the allegations, but noted several individuals have come forward.
In a statement issued through the public affairs firm Paschal Roth, Chairman Eric Bauman did not deny the allegations, but noted an independent investigation into the allegations has started.
“I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” Bauman said in the statement. “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.”
Bauman added, “I look forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats.”
In May 2017, Bauman was elected Chair of the California Democratic Party in a close race against Kimberly Ellis. Bauman won by 62 votes in a race in which more than 3000 delegates cast a ballot. Ellis issued a formal challenge of the results in response to several discrepancies and complaints over the voting process and ballot authentication.
Ellis, viewed as the progressive choice in the race for chair, explained in a podcast she was deterred from running by party insiders who told her it would be political suicide to challenge Bauman.
During the race, Bauman faced allegations of sexual misconduct. In an email to California Democratic Party supporters he complained that rumors were being circulated that he engaged in inappropriate behavior with teenage boys. In 2011, LA Weekly described Bauman as a party boss; “He was always a menacing presence, staring down people and walking around the room as if he was some kind of old school political boss who needed to keep the rank and file in line.” During the chair race, two activists who supported Ellis shared experiences of Bauman intimidating them for their progressive political opinions, including poking one woman in the chest.
Progressives also cited Bauman’s previous role as a pharmaceutical lobbyist, in which he received a $12,500 per month payment to oppose a California proposition to cap prescription drug costs in 2016, as a deterrent to his candidacy.
As Kimberly Ellis’ push for a proper recount and audit of the results continued several months after the election, California Democratic Party officials accused Ellis of widening the rift within the Democratic Party.
As the dominant party in the nation’s biggest state celebrates having added to its majorities just a few weeks ago, party faithful eagerly await the process to unfold. Christine Pelosi, the Chair of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus (and of course the daughter of the longtime Representative who is expected to regain her position as Speaker of the House), explained the process in a Twitter thread;
“The Chair has 10 days from registered mail receipt of that demand to resign or respond per #CADEM bylaws,” Pelosi wrote. “As for me, because I was asked by complainants for confidential advice early on, I won’t comment on the substance of the personnel investigation — and as a potential juror (in my capacity as a #CADEM Executive Board Member) I will recuse myself from any removal votes.”
At least two anonymous accounts on Twitter claim to be California Democratic Party staffers who either experienced or witnessed some of Bauman’s misconduct, and allege party officials ignored and dismissed allegations going back to before Bauman was elected chair.
The outcry surrounding the allegations against Bauman, and his controversial election as Chair resembles the Florida Democratic Party Chair race in January 2017; billionaire Stephen Bittel faced criticism for allegedly violating party rules to make himself eligible for the position, which he went on to comfortably win only to resign in November 2017 after several women came forward alleging creepy behavior toward staffers.