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Is It time for Eric Bauman to Face the Music?

Is It time for Eric Bauman to Face the Music? 

EASTSIDER-Talk about a story moving like lightning! Just a few days ago Eric C. Bauman, the Chair of the California Democratic Party, was riding high. Then came charges filed by another CD Dems officer, Daraka Larimore-Hall (Vice-Chair), regarding serious sexual misconduct, harassment and threats. 

The story, according to sanjoseinside.com, involves Larimore-Hall’s letter alleging serious sexual harassment and assaults by Bauman: the Tweet, and shortly thereafter the article, all took place on Friday November 23. The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the story on November 24, as did the Sacramento Bee, and the LA Times   did an article on November 25. 

As The Times put it: 

“The California Democratic Party has launched an investigation into unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct against Chairman Eric Bauman involving party staff members.” 

Then on November 26 the roof fell in, as the national press stepped in, and Bauman agreed to step aside for the investigation. Wow!  Four days from Tweet to limbo! That’s got to be a record, even in the Democratic Party. 

Background 

New York City transplant and RN Eric Bauman has been a big “D” Democratic Party kingmaker in California for almost two decades. The very definition of an Establishment Democrat, he plays hardball big time. Prior to the current contretemps, Mr. Bauman was the Chair of the Los Angeles Democratic Party (2000-2017), and the Vice-Chair of the Statewide Party from 2009-2017.  

For those who are not political junkies, or are living under a rock, Eric Bauman is openly gay, living in North Hollywood and married to husband Michael for many years. This fact ties into the story. 

Democratic insiders from LA are likely not surprised by the current revelations. There have been a lot of rumors during Bauman’s tenure as Chair of the LA Dems. Stuff like following men into the restroom, ogling them as they urinated, and physically and verbally intimidating/harassing/scaring them. Pretty icky and with no one willing to go public. 

While I cannot personally attest to these allegations, I have talked to folks I do know and trust enough to mention it here as hearsay worth looking into, since it argues to a pattern of behavior which has now exploded against Bauman at the State level.

t also makes sense to me that men are reluctant to report male on male sexual assault. While there may not be lots of data on the issue, here’s a link to a University of Michigan factoid on the matter. It goes a long way to explaining why this is so. 

The other characteristic my friends allude to is that anyone trying to accuse Eric Bauman of any sexual bad behavior is going to be subject to serious retaliation, both personal and physical, character assassination, and coverup. Not to mention fake news.

Why anyone in the LA Dems would play Igor to Bauman’s Dracula is beyond my ken, but I can state with certainty that stranger things have happened in politics. 

The Statewide Office of Chair 

Bauman was anointed as the Chair of the CA Dems in 2017 after a bruising, contentious fight against Kimberly Ellis. When I say contentious, I’m being conservative. The vote for Chair between Bauman and Kimberly Ellis was for the soul of the party -- big bucks top down authoritarian Bauman vs a Richmond political activist, Bernie supporter and advocate for a small “d” democratic party. 

It was close, it was bitter, and allegations of Bauman rigging the vote abounded. As The Mercury-News  noted: 

“Some Ellis supporters called for a recount after the results were announced late Saturday night, and Ellis posted a statement on Facebook on Sunday morning saying she was working with party officials to “ensure the election was conducted fairly and with transparency.” 

The vote difference was 1493 to 1431. Bauman stonewalled an independent recount, declared victory, and thus rode into power as California’s big kahuna. Do you see a pattern here? 

The Takeaway 

I make no bones about my belief that under Eric Bauman the California State Democratic Party Chair is the poster child for a top down establishment Democratic Party.  

I have even written a couple of articles about Bauman’s underhanded and take-no-hostages approach to running the party as if it were his personal fiefdom. But nowhere did I suspect the kind of outrageous behavior that is now coming into public purview. 

That this news story blew wide open is not a surprise. There are many of us who believe Eric Bauman is an authoritarian bully, and indeed that is consistent with the breaking new revelations. Even without the sexual allegations which have apparently been suppressed for years and years. 

There was and is enough substance to this story that it has been taken up by the national media. For example, The New York Times article specifies that “Sexual Misconduct Claims Roil the State’s Democratic Party.” 

They quote Larimore-Hall regarding the charges against Bauman: 

“Mr. Larimore-Hall said in a statement on Saturday that he had learned of ‘multiple serious and credible allegations’ that Mr. Bauman had sexually harassed and in some cases sexually assaulted people at party events. He said Mr. Bauman was involved in witness tampering as well.” 

This is serious stuff, folks. And The Washington Post, echoes in also quoting Larimore-Hall regarding Bauman’s behavior: 

“In the days since the first brave souls have come forward, they have been joined by others with similar stories and experiences,” Larimore-Hall said in the letter, calling the allegations “credible, corroborated and utterly heart-breaking.” 

You get the point. So, here’s my take. What happened over the last week isn’t something that occurred in a vacuum, and the kind of behavior Bauman is accused of is consistent with rumors and off the record conversations going all the way back to his time as Chair of the LA County Democratic Party. 

Assuming these allegations are true, there is still no guarantee that Bauman will get the axe. He has survived before. Remember his pattern of behavior -- deny, lie, call in the chips to silence his peers or even get them to back him, assassinate the character of anyone who dares question him, crank out fake news, and never, ever, admit anything even if they have it on tape. 

Sound familiar? Maybe Eric Bauman was channeling Donald Trump before The Donald got into politics. This is sick stuff, and the anonymity requested by all the accusers certainly bespeaks of people terrified of retaliation and the sliming of their lives and reputation. 

The Party needs to pursue a swift and comprehensive investigation into Mr. Bauman and should go all the way back to his time with the Los Angeles Democratic Party. If, as I fear, they discover a pattern of reprehensible behavior, please cast him aside quickly, and try to rebuild the Party in time to recover for the Presidential election of 2020. 

Our Party cannot countenance this behavior and then claim the moral high ground against Donald Trump. If the allegations are true, this one’s a game changer.

 

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.