California Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman to take leave of absence amid sexual misconduct allegations

Yet another powerful and prominent liberal is in hot water over allegations of sexual assault and harassment. This time it’s a top Democratic Party official in California.

Eric Bauman, chairman of the California Democratic Party, will be taking a leave of absence for the foreseeable future while an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against him is conducted.

Bauman decided to step aside for the duration of an investigation after considering his options over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is unclear when, or if, he will resume his position as chair of the state party.

Leave of absence

A spokesman for the party, Mike Roth, explained Bauman made use of “the holiday weekend to consider the most constructive path forward for the work of the California Democratic Party.”

“Chair Bauman believes this decision is the best way to ensure the independence and integrity of the process,” said Roth in a statement, adding, “The Party is confident that the procedures in place will allow for all parties to come forward freely and provide for a thorough and complete review.”

Allegations of sexual misconduct

Bauman came under fire just last week after a letter was received by the party from the party’s own second vice-chair, Daraka Larimore-Hall, which leveled allegations that Bauman had “sexually harassed, and in some cases sexually assaulted, individuals during Party functions.”

“I believe the victims. Their stories illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior,” said Larimore-Hall, saying that he had spoken with two victims, according to The Sacramento Bee.

“This is unacceptable for a political organization dedicated to feminism, human rights and just working conditions. Our activists and voters look to us as a force for social change, and we must embody the values we fight for in society,” the second vice-chair added.

Almost immediately after that letter was made public, a number of other influential and prominent party members joined in a chorus demanding Bauman either voluntarily step down or be removed from his position.

Independent investigation

For his part, Bauman said in a statement on Saturday that he takes the allegations against him “seriously.” It is noteworthy that he hasn’t come right out and flatly denied them.

“I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” said Bauman in a statement on Saturday. “To that end, a prompt, thorough and independent investigation of the allegations has been undertaken by a respected outside investigator, ensuring these individuals making the charges are treated with respect and free from any concerns of retaliation,” he added.

Multiple witnesses

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Bauman had “made crude sexual comments and engaged in unwanted touching or physical intimidation in professional settings,” accusations that were revealed in interviews with 10 party officials and staffers.

After these further accusations, Bauman said Wednesday that he would “immediately seek medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol.” However, he declined to address any specific allegations, citing the ongoing independent investigation.

What now?

The Washington Examiner noted that first vice-chair Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker will assume the role of acting chair of the state party for the duration of Bauman’s absence in order to ensure that that party’s machinations continue “uninterrupted.”

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While it is certainly possible that Bauman is guilty of the allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against him, he deserves the due process and presumption of innocence that his party isn’t always inclined to grant to those who stand accused of misdeeds. We will have to wait for the investigation to conclude in order to make a more informed determination as to Bauman’s guilt or innocence.

Meanwhile, it must be noted that this situation looks an awful lot like an internal struggle for power and influence among disparate wings of the party — moderate, establishment, and far-left progressive — which is all the more reason to wait for the Democrats to work this out among themselves.

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