California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman is facing calls to step down in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
Daraka Larimore-Hall, the state party’s vice chairman, told The Washington Post that he sent a letter Tuesday to the party’s secretary calling for Bauman’s removal after being approached by several party staff members who told him that they had been sexually harassed and assaulted by Bauman.
Larimore-Hall said he first filed a complaint with the party’s human resources department and called on Bauman to step down. After Bauman refused, Larimore-Hall initiated the formal process of calling for Bauman to be ousted.
“In the days since the first brave souls have come forward, they have been joined by others with similar stories and experiences,” Larimore-Hall said in the letter, calling the allegations “credible, corroborated and utterly heart-breaking.”
He asked that Democrats “honor these survivors by respecting their desire to be left alone, and in some cases to remain anonymous.” A copy of the letter was leaked online Sunday. Larimore-Hall confirmed its contents.
Bauman has been California Democratic Party chairman since May 2017. He is the first openly gay person to lead the party in the state.
Bauman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday afternoon. In a statement Saturday to the Sacramento Bee, he said that “a prompt, thorough and independent investigation of the allegations has been undertaken by a respected outside investigator.”
“I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” Bauman said in the statement, adding that he looks forward to “putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats.”
The California Democratic Party did not respond to requests for comment. The party’s Women’s Caucus commented on the allegations in a statement posted on its Facebook page Saturday.
“The California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus believes that each and all of us — especially elected party leaders — must create a culture of dignity and respect and use our powers to fight harassment, discrimination, bullying, and abuse,” the statement said. “We support victims coming forward with a path to justice, due process, and transparency so that our party can do the hard work of building a culture of respect and equity for all.”
In a Friday tweet, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) also weighed in on the matter, calling the allegations against Bauman “shocking” and suggesting that California Democrats replace him with Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber.