ASSAULT & HARASSMENT Allegations Against Gay DNC Chair
Eric C. Bauman has been a contentious figure from the start as leader of the California Democratic Party. He won after a tough fight with a more liberal competitor — there were shouts of “not my chairman” as he gave his victory speech. And he has been criticized as being an old-school political boss, and as too mainstream for a party moving to the left.
But Mr. Bauman is now facing the most serious threat to his leadership yet: allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. The anonymous charges, from California Democratic Party staff members, were filed with the party’s leadership by Daraka Larimore-Hall, vice chairman of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Larimore-Hall said in a statement on Saturday that he had learned of “multiple serious and credible allegations” that Mr. Bauman had sexually harassed and in some cases sexually assaulted people at party events. He said Mr. Bauman was involved in witness tampering as well.
“I believe the victims,” he said. Mr. Larimore-Hall said he would not name them.
Mr. Bauman said in a statement that an outside law firm — Churchwell White, based in Sacramento — had been retained to investigate the allegations. “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,” he said.
“I look forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats,” Mr. Bauman said. An aide said that Mr. Bauman did not specifically deny the allegations because details of the charges remain unknown.
Some Democrats were quick to call on Mr. Bauman to step aside. Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat who represents the Silicon Valley, called them “shocking” on Twitter.
The uproar came not long after Democrats overwhelmed Republicans in the midterm elections, winning six of the seven Republican-held congressional seats they had identified as targets for flipping. The state party, however, did not play a major role in those battles.
Governor-elect Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, called for a “full and thorough investigation” in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.
Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna said Bauman should be removed from his position and replaced with Michele Dauber, the Stanford Law professor who led the efforts to recall Judge Aaron Persky after his controversial sentencing of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner.
In a statement, the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus said, “[E]ach and all of us – especially elected party leaders – must create a culture of dignity and respect and use our powers to fight harassment, discrimination, bullying and abuse.”
Bauman was elected as the state Democratic Party’s chairman in 2017 and is its first openly gay leader. He previously led the Los Angeles County Democratic Party for 17 years, according to his biography.
Check out our sources: