California Dem Party Chair Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Gavin Newsom (left) and Eric Bauman (right) / Twitter screenshot
November 29, 2018

Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, resigned on Thursday after several colleagues accused him of sexual misconduct.

"I have made the realization that in order for those to whom I may have caused pain and who need to heal, for my own health, and in the best interest of the party that I love and to which I have dedicated myself for more than 25 years, it is in everyone's best interest for me to resign my position as chair of the California Democratic Party," Bauman said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

In a letter last week, Daraka Larimore-Hall, the state Democratic Party's third in command, accused Bauman of unspecified misconduct, referring to a "clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman's horrific and dehumanizing behavior." Bauman, who is gay and a prominent figure in LGBTQ politics, then said he would take a leave of absence.

The pressure on Bauman intensified on Wednesday, when the Times published a story revealing some of the accusations, including "crude sexual comments" and "unwanted touching or physical intimidation in professional settings." The Times said 10 party staff members and political activists detailed the allegations in interviews.

Larimore-Hall said the allegations range from "salty talk that wasn't appreciated to sexual assault" and the victims include more than 10 party staffers and volunteers.

Bauman announced his resignation one day after the Times report. California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom (D.) and other top Democrats had increased the pressure on Bauman by calling on the party chair to step down.

Newsom previously said that he was concerned by "the very serious allegations" and that Bauman should resign. The governor-elect's spokesman, Nathan Click, added that "sexual harassment shouldn't be tolerated—no person or party, no matter how powerful, is above accountability," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The governor-elect believes the investigation should move forward and the victims should be heard," Click said. "But given the numerous detailed, severe and corroborated allegations reported by the Times, he believes the best course of action for the party is for the chair to resign."

Alexandra Gallardo Rooker, the vice chair of the California Democratic Party, is now running the organization's day-to-day operations until the May convention, where party delegates will choose someone to serve the remainder of Bauman's term.

"While Eric’s resigning is a first step in providing justice for the victims, it does not eradicate the political culture that enabled such abuses of power," Ellis said in a statement Thursday.

"We owe victims lasting change," she added. "It's time we get serious about unionizing campaign workers, party employees and legislative staffers—because if our leaders won't protect workers, then at least they should have the tools to protect themselves and one another."