California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman, who took a leave of absence Monday amid an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, said Wednesday he plans to seek treatment for health issues and “an issue with alcohol.”
The announcement by Bauman, former head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, came in response to a Los Angeles Times report, in which 10 party staff members and political activists accused Bauman of making crude sexual comments and engaging in unwanted touching or physical intimidation.
“The events of the last few days have given me the opportunity to reflect on my actions and their potential effect on other people,” Bauman said in a statement. “I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I appreciate the courage it took for these individuals to come forward to tell their stories.
“In the interest of allowing the CDP’s independent investigation to move forward, I do not wish to respond to any of the specific allegations. However, I will use the time I am on leave to immediately seek medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol.”
“Leading the California Democratic Party to historic victories has been the honor of a lifetime, and I look forward to continuing this important work upon the conclusion of the investigation and when my health allows,” he said.
In a statement to The Times on Saturday, Bauman confirmed an investigation was underway but did not address the allegations against him. He said independent counsel has been hired to investigate the matter.
Last week, Daraka Larimore-Hall, a vice chairman of the state party, sent a letter to state Democratic Party leadership calling for Bauman’s removal, saying he had spoken to two of the alleged victims and that their stories “illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior.”
Bauman was elected chairman of the party in 2017, after a closely contested election against progressive activist Kimberly Ellis. A former nurse and organizer, he led the Los Angeles County Democrats for 17 years and also served as vice chairman for the statewide party for eight years.
The Times on Wednesday reported that Bauman, who is gay, has a reputation for being brash and boisterous, but his behavior became inappropriate over the course of a decade. The paper cited eight current party staffers who said Bauman would make sexually explicit comments in the workplace to men and women alike, referring to sex acts, his and other staffers’ genitalia and being sexually attracted to staff members. One female staffer based in Southern California told The Times Bauman made obscene comments to her at a dinner in September of last year.
A gay male party official told The Times that during work interactions, Bauman would ask him about his sex life.
The staff members also told the paper they experienced or witnessed Bauman engaging in unwanted physical contact, particularly with male staffers, The Times reported.
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