In the midst of an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman announced his resignation Thursday.
Bauman, former head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, said in a statement the decision is in “everyone’s best interest,” including “those to whom I may have caused pain and who need to heal.”
Bauman took a leave of absence on Monday amid reports of the allegations and news of the investigation. Pressure on Bauman mounted on Wednesday when the Los Angeles Times reported on allegations made by 10 party staffers and political activists accusing him of making crude sexual comments and engaging in unwanted touching or physical intimidation.
Bauman said Wednesday he would be seeking treatment for health issues and “an issue with alcohol.”
By Thursday, however, Bauman opted to step down from his post.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“My dream was to create an environment at the CDP where the officers were partners, actual participants in the planning and operation of the party; where delegates and staff could share their ideas and concerns; where outreach into key communities was not limited to the campaign cycle, but was a permanent year-round commitment; where our meetings were focused on our delegates and their interests and needs; where new and creative ideas, concepts and technologies were tested, adopted and integrated; where the most innovative, sophisticated and comprehensive campaigns could be built and executed, and as a result we could engage and participate in all parts of the state; where Democrats could be elected in places long written off as unlikely, unwinnable or unimaginable; and that our relationships with grassroots groups, labor and our legislative leadership and political teams would grow and be strengthened.
“I leave knowing that in 18 short months we did all of that,” he said.
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.” She re-iterated that call Wednesday following The Times report.
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.
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.