California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman resigned on Thursday amid multiple claims of sexual misconduct.
Bauman, who allegedly made sexually explicit comments while at work and sometimes touched staffers without permission, said it was “in everyone’s best interest” for him to step down from his post.
“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,” Bauman said in a statement provided to The Los Angeles Times.
He had been in the role for 18 months.
Bauman, 59, is the subject of an internal investigation after multiple people accused him of sexual misconduct. Earlier this week, he said he would take a leave of absence during the probe. He has also said he’s going to seek treatment for alcohol abuse and health issues, the outlet reported.
“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.
“Leading the California Democratic Party to historic victories has been the honor of a lifetime, and I look forward to continuing this important work upon the conclusion of the investigation and when my health allows,” he added.
Multiple staffers told The Times that Bauman, the party’s first openly gay chairman, would often make sexual comments to men and women at work.
One woman told the newspaper Bauman said he wanted to have sex with her and suggested she would have been a gay man in a previous life.
Grace Leekley, a 21-year-old temporary worker in the party’s communications department, said she arranged for her own transportation when the party traveled around the state with candidates earlier this month because she did not want to be on a bus with Bauman.
At a lunch on the trip, she claimed Bauman asked her and another woman if they were having an affair in front of other colleagues. Although they said no, Bauman allegedly continued to press the pair.
Bauman was also facing confrontation from members of his own party. California Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom on Thursday called for him to step down from his leadership role.
“Sexual harassment shouldn’t be tolerated — no person or party, no matter how powerful, is above accountability,” spokesman Nathan Click said in a statement, according to The Sacramento Bee.
“The governor-elect believes the investigation should move forward and the victims should be heard,” Click said. “But given the numerous detailed, severe and corroborated allegations reported by The Times, he believes the best course of action for the party is for the chair to resign.”