California Democratic Party Chair Out Amid Claims of Misconduct

LOS ANGELES (CN) – California Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman resigned Thursday in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations by former and current party staffers.

Bauman, who was elected to lead Golden State Democrats in May 2017, said in a statement that it was “in everyone’s best interest,” including alleged victims and the statewide party, to resign.

Bauman, a former nurse and labor leader, took a leave of absence from his position Saturday after the state party’s vice chair Daraka Larimore-Hall revealed claims by party staff members who said Bauman had sexually harassed and assaulted them.

The party launched an internal investigation.

On Wednesday, Bauman said in a statement he would take seriously “any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” and added he would seek treatment for alcohol abuse.

His resignation Thursday came a day after a Los Angeles Times article detailed accounts by party staff members who said Bauman made lewd sexual comments in professional and private settings and touched them without their consent.

The former head of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party also faced calls to resign from California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom as well from state Senate leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood.

Alexandra Gallardo Rooker will now lead state Democrats. In a statement Thursday, Rooker said the party’s investigations will be “committed to full transparency no matter the outcome.”

Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, who led hearings into a sexual harassment scandal inside the California Legislature, said in a statement Thursday a “systemic failure” is to blame for the mounting misconduct within political leadership.

“Our party must fully evaluate where our system failed and fix it,” Friedman said, adding the party should implement mandatory trainings on preventing and reporting all forms of harassment.

In his statement Thursday – which did not address the allegations against him – Bauman touted his successes, noting he worked to build a state party that could elect Democrats “in places long written off as unlikely, unwinnable and unimaginable.”

Democrats did just that and more in 2018.

With Democrat T.J. Cox declaring victory Wednesday in the race for California’s 21st Congressional District, Democrats completed a sweep of all seven GOP-held House seats that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

“May 2018 be the harbinger of 2020,” Bauman said in the statement. He did not reply to a request for further comment.

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