California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman resigned Thursday amid an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted several party staff members.
Party officials said that the investigation into Bauman’s behavior will continue despite his resignation.
“I have made the realization that in order for those to whom I may have caused pain . . . 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,” Bauman said in a statement Thursday night.
Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the party, confirmed that Bauman had submitted his resignation. Alexandra Gallardo Rooker, who assumed the role of acting chair on Tuesday, will continue to lead the party until a new permanent chair is elected.
Bauman had been California Democratic Party chairman since May 2017. He was the first openly gay person to lead the party in the state.
A growing chorus of voices had called for Bauman’s resignation in the days since Daraka Larimore-Hall, the state party’s vice chairman, sent a letter to the party’s secretary last week urging Bauman’s removal.
In the letter, Larimore-Hall said he had been approached by several party staff members with “credible, corroborated and utterly heart-breaking” allegations that Bauman had sexually harassed and assaulted them. On Saturday, Bauman issued a statement saying that an independent probe had been launched by an outside investigator.
After the Los Angeles Times published a detailed report on Wednesday with accounts from several of the alleged victims, the drumbeat for Bauman’s resignation grew louder. Ten party staffers and activists told the newspaper that for more than a decade, Bauman engaged in a range of inappropriate behavior, from making sexually explicit comments to unwanted touching.
Bauman also frequently consumed alcohol during the workday in violation of state party policy, several staff members told the Times.
On Thursday morning, California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom (D) called for Bauman to step down. “The governor-elect believes the investigation should move forward and the victims should be heard,” Newsom spokesman Nathan Click said. “But given the numerous detailed, severe and corroborated allegations reported by the Times, he believes the best course of action for the party is for the chair to resign.”
In his statement, Bauman hailed what the party had achieved in the “18 short months” of his tenure.
Rooker, the acting chair, said in a statement that the party has retained attorney Debra Hinshaw Vierra to conduct an independent investigation into “any and all allegations” against Bauman.
“This investigation is currently underway and will continue despite Mr. Bauman’s resignation,” Rooker said. The final report will be provided to the party’s outside employment counsel, she said, while a redacted version will be provided to the executive board and an executive summary will be released publicly.