California Democratic Party Chair Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Assault and Harassment

“A clear and escalating pattern of…horrific and dehumanizing behavior.”

Eric Bauman speaking in Los Angeles in 2016Keith Birmingham/Zuma

Last February, as California’s Legislature was reeling from a sexual misconduct scandal, Eric Bauman, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, told the Associated Press, “Though nobody ever talked about it or knew about it, there have been some of these problems at prior Democratic Party events.” He added, “It’s not going to happen on my watch.”

Now, nine months after his promise, Bauman is resigning amid sexual assault and harassment allegations of his own. His resignation comes less than a week after the allegations first came to light, when an internal letter sent by state party vice chair Daraka Larimore-Hall accusing Bauman of “a clear and escalating pattern of…horrific and dehumanizing behavior” was leaked.

In the days that followed, the party launched an independent investigation, Bauman took a leave of absence, and Larimore-Hall stated that more people came forward with complaints. On Wednesday, in response to a Los Angeles Times article citing 10 people who accused  Bauman of inappropriate touching and making crude comments, he said he would seek treatment for health and alcohol issues. Bauman’s behavior had been going on for more than a decade, according to those who spoke with the Times. “People just didn’t know how to speak up about it,” said one political consultant.