California Democratic chief to seek treatment for alcohol abuse following sexual misconduct allegations

Two young women working for the party said Eric Bauman asked if they were sleeping together.
Image: Eric Bauman
Eric Bauman addresses the California Democratic Party annual convention as he seeks their vote for chairman in Sacramento, Calif on May 20, 2017.Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

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By Dennis Romero

California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman, already on leave as a result of a recent sexual misconduct investigation, said Wednesday that he would seek alcohol treatment.

The announcement was a response to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct published by the Los Angeles Times earlier in the day. Among the accusers is a woman who said she was working temporarily for the party during election season when Bauman asked if she and another worker were sleeping together.

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"I felt really embarrassed, almost ashamed, and uncomfortable," Grace Leekley told the Times. "I'm basically bottom-of-the-barrel staff — and he’s the most powerful man in the party."

The allegations came as the influential state party is riding a celebratory wave following a historic showing in Orange County during the November midterm election. Once a cornerstone of the GOP, the county is now wholly represented by Democrats in Congress.

Without affirming or denying the allegations, Bauman said in a statement, "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."

He added: "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."

Last year, as Bauman campaigned for his post, he faced allegations that he had engaged in inappropriate behavior with teenage boys. At the time Bauman, the state party's first openly gay chairman, said he was "outraged" by the charges.

Party vice chairman Daraka Larimore-Hall first raised the latest round of allegations and called on Bauman to resign.

Associated Press contributed.