California Democratic Chair accused of crude comments, unwanted touching

Eric Bauman, the Chairman of the California Democratic Party, has been accused of making crude comments and of unwanted touching, primarily though not exclusively directed at male party staffers. From the LA Times:

Bauman, who is gay, is a fixture in California and LGBTQ politics. A former nurse who ascended to the top echelon of the state Democratic Party, Bauman has built a reputation for being brash and boisterous, with a large circle of allies within the party…

Eight current party staffers said that, while he was serving as chairman, Bauman would regularly make sexually explicit comments in the workplace to men and women, including remarks about sexual acts, his and other staffers’ genitalia, and being sexually attracted to staff members…

A gay male party official said that during professional interactions with Bauman, the party chairman inquired about his sex life with his partner.

The Times reviewed text messages between the official and Bauman that show Bauman making sexually suggestive remarks. The official also said he witnessed Bauman taunting staff members on multiple occasions about their sexual orientation and their physical appearance.

The eight staff members each said they also experienced or witnessed Bauman engaging in unwanted touching, particularly directed toward male staffers.

Some of the allegations in the LA Times story go back to 2016 and it’s clear that rumors about Bauman’s behavior were circulating widely enough last year that he openly denied it. So why didn’t someone come forward before now? Allan Acevedo who is a political consultant who works with the party (and also gay) tells the Times, “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.”

Bauman went on leave Monday while the party’s third-in-command launched an “independent investigation” of the allegations against him. I guess it’s independent in the sense that Bauman himself isn’t running it. Today Bauman gave a statement to the LA Times saying he was seeking treatment for “an issue with alcohol” during his time off:

”I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I appreciate the courage it took for these individuals to come forward to tell their stories,” Bauman said.

“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. However, I will use the time I am on leave to immediately seek medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol,” he said.

I guess we’ll see if Bauman can bounce back from this but I sort of doubt it. He narrowly won the party chairmanship last year. In fact, his rival all but accused him of stealing the election. So there are already plenty of people who would be happy to see him replaced and, I would guess, he has fewer defenders now that these allegations have come out.

Bauman made news in August when he used his Twitter account to call for a boycott of California burger chain In-N-Out over a $25,000 donation to the California Republican Party:

Bauman got ratioed for that suggestion with twice as many people replying at liking his tweet. A party staffer quickly clarified that Bauman’s account was his personal opinion and that the party did not support such a boycott.

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