U.S. News

California Democratic Party chair resigns amid sexual misconduct investigation

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - The chairman of the California state Democratic Party said on Thursday he would resign amid allegations that he engaged in unspecified sexual misconduct with party staffers.

Eric Bauman, a key player in Democrats’ recent electoral successes in the state, has said in recent days that he regretted pain his behavior had caused others. He did not specify the allegations against him but he also did not deny them.

State party officials are conducting an investigation but did not give details about the accusations.

“I have made the realization that in order for those to whom I may have caused pain and who need to heal, for my own health, and in the best interest of the Party that I love and to which I have dedicated myself for more than 25 years, it is in everyone’s best interest for me to resign my position as chair of the California Democratic Party,” said Bauman, 59, the first openly gay person to head the state party.

Bauman’s decision to step down came after calls for his resignation by the state’s Governor-elect, Democrat Gavin Newsom, as well as members of the party executive committee.

The allegations against Bauman surfaced earlier this month, when another party official, Vice Chair Daraka Larimore-Hall, began proceedings to remove him after talking with staff members of the state Democratic Party.

In addition to removing Bauman, “we also must conduct a truly independent investigation, not only into these specific allegations of harassment and assault, but into the structures and culture of the party that allowed this to happen,” Larimore-Hall said in a statement. “We must make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated on any level, by anyone.”

The scandal comes after the party’s “blue wave” triumph in November’s midterm congressional elections, which saw Orange County in southern California, once a bastion for the Republicans, become wholly represented by Democrats in Congress.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker