Capitol Alert

Top California Democrat investigated for sexual misconduct

The California Democratic Party is investigating a sexual misconduct complaint against Chairman Eric Bauman after one of his deputies this week called for his removal.

“I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” Bauman said in a statement Saturday night. “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.”

“I look forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats,” he added.

Daraka Larimore-Hall, the second vice-chair of the party, on Friday filed paperwork to initiate Bauman’s removal. In a letter sent to the party and reviewed by The Bee, he charged that he had learned of multiple incidents in which Bauman “sexually harassed, and in some cases sexually assaulted, individuals during Party functions.” Larimore-Hall said he had spoken with two victims and a witness whom Bauman allegedly intimidated.

“I believe the victims. Their stories illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior,” Larimore-Hall wrote. “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.”

The letter did not provide further details about the accusations, citing the alleged victims’ privacy. Larimore-Hall did not respond to multiple efforts to reach him for comment.

The complaint against Bauman began circulating on social media on Friday night. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Fremont, quickly called for the party to replace him with Stanford law Professor Michele Dauber, who led the recall of former Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, or liberal activist Kimberly Ellis.

Bauman narrowly beat Ellis last year in a contentious and controversial election for California Democratic Party chair. A former nurse and health care consultant, Bauman oversaw the Los Angeles County party for more than a decade and later served as a top staffer in the Assembly Speaker’s Office. He is openly gay.

As sexual harassment allegations against Sacramento lawmakers emerged last fall, Bauman told reporters that he supported a measure to extend whistleblower protections to legislative employees.

“Nobody should go to work and be in fear…because a bully or harasser is coming,” he said in November 2017.

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