On Thursday. the head of the California Democratic Party resigned after there were multiple claims of sexual misconduct made against him. Eric Bauman released a statement to the Los Angeles Times that said, “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.”
According to The Sacramento Bee, “One of Bauman’s deputies, Daraka Larimore-Hall, initiated the process to remove him last week after hearing from individuals who said Bauman had sexually harassed and assaulted them at party events. By Monday, the party had launched an investigation into the complaints and Bauman took a leave of absence.”
On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that 10 party staff members and political activists reported Bauman had made vulgar sexual comments and participated in unwanted touching or physical intimidation in professional settings.
On Thursday, governor-elect Gavin Newsom said Bauman should resign. His spokesman Nathan Click stated, “Sexual harassment shouldn’t be tolerated — no person or party, no matter how powerful, is above accountability.” Newsom’s call for Bauman’s resignation was echoed by the gay rights group Equality California and California Democratic Party Secretary Jenny Bach.
The Bee reported that Spencer Dayton, a 21-year-old party delegate from Lodi, said Bauman groped him twice at party events, the first time at the May 2017 convention in Sacramento. Dayton said he wanted to question Bauman about his perspective on certain issues, but when he shook Bauman’s hand, Bauman yanked him closer and grabbed his penis. Dayton concluded, “It was very, very quick, but very intentional.”
The following November, at the party’s executive board meeting, Dayton said he wanted Bauman to support a resolution Dayton was going to offer, but Bauman put his arm over Dayton’s shoulder and “reached down and grabbed my butt and said, ‘Well, I’m going to have think about it.’” Dayton has retained a lawyer.
In 2017, Bauman won a hotly-contested race for the leadership of the California Democratic Party, defeating Kimberly Ellis by a bare 62 votes, 1,493 to 1,431. He had been the chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. After the election, Ellis questioned the legitimacy of the election and the review process after it, writing in a memo, “Based on the information contained here, the actual vote count is in question. It is believed that the wrong individual is serving as chair.”
Mike Roth, the incoming spokesman for the state Democratic Party, responded at the time, “From what we can tell at this point, it appears to be more unsubstantiated allegations and still no facts.”
Bauman tried to offer an olive branch, insisting that unity was vital so the state party could maintain its position as the “beating heart of the resistance.” He stated, “I am well aware that 49 percent of the delegates to the convention voted for Kimberly Ellis and that if we are to keep California the big blue beacon of hope and the beating heart of the resistance, those who have felt shut out of the process must have a true seat at the table. But I also know that doing so does not require burning down every institution and trashing those activists and volunteers who have given their blood, sweat and tears over the years to make the California Democratic Party the most successful Democratic Party anywhere in America.”