Top California Democrat says he’ll seek alcohol treatment
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman, who is on leave amid sexual misconduct allegations, said Wednesday he’ll seek treatment for alcohol abuse and other health issues.
Bauman’s statement was first made to the Los Angeles Times in response to an article citing 10 people, some anonymous, describing crude comments and inappropriate physical touching by Bauman, including asking two young women if they were sexually involved.
Bauman took a leave of absence Monday after announcing an investigation into allegations against him over the weekend. Party vice chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall accused Bauman of sexual harassment and assault against unnamed victims last week.
“I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work,” Bauman said Wednesday. “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.”
The turmoil comes as California Democrats enjoy sweeping victories in the midterm elections, when they captured Orange County seats long held by Republicans and furthered their grip on total power in the state Legislature.
Bauman narrowly won the party chairmanship in early 2017 and is the party’s first openly gay chairman.
Larimore-Hall on Wednesday renewed his calls for Bauman to resign and said the party’s “processes and rules appear to be inadequate” when it comes to protecting victims. Bauman could be removed from office by a vote of the party’s executive board, which does not have another scheduled meeting until next year.
Before Larimore-Hall’s accusations, someone made a sexual harassment complaint against Bauman days ahead of the midterm election. David Campos, chairman of the San Francisco Democratic Party, told The Associated Press that two young women reported drinking and comments about sex by Bauman during a party bus tour.
The complaint prompted Campos and members of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s team to ask Bauman not to appear at a Nov. 2 event in San Francisco.
The Times’ story details a complaint regarding two 21-year-old women made Nov. 1.
Grace Leekley, who was working on a temporary basis for the party, said she attended a bus tour stop in Chico and had lunch with party staff members. At the lunch, she said Bauman asked her and Kate Earley, the party’s digital director, if they were sexually involved.
“I felt really embarrassed, almost ashamed, and uncomfortable,” Leekley told the Times. “I’m basically bottom-of-the-barrel staff — and he’s the most powerful man in the party.”
Earley filed a complaint with the party and her attorney told the Times it remains unresolved.
Political consultant Allan Acevedo told the Times that in 2016 he and his ex-boyfriend had dinner with Bauman and his husband. Acevedo planned to stay the night at Bauman’s home after the dinner, and Bauman made multiple comments about Acevedo having sex at his home. Acevedo told Bauman to behave and joked he might withdraw his endorsement of Bauman for party chair, he told the Times.
Bauman grabbed the back of his neck and told Acevedo if he pulled the endorsement “I would crush you,” Acevedo said.
Acevedo said he feels guilty he did not report the incident at the time.
“People just didn’t know how to speak up about it,” he said. “There was a sense of loyalty. Not just to him, but to any advancement that any LGBT person makes in terms of us having representation at the table.”