The California Democratic Party this week fired seven top staff members connected with former chair Eric Bauman, who resigned last month amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
A party spokesman said Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker, the acting chair of the party, decided to replace staff hired by Bauman as part of the change in leadership.
“The moves are not necessarily a reflection of the work of the individuals involved,” spokesman Roger Salazar said. “It’s a desire from the acting chair to start fresh and keep the party moving in the right direction.”
Bauman, the first openly gay leader of the California Democratic Party, was accused last month by male and female party staff and activists of making explicit remarks about their sex lives and bodies and touching them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable.
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As one of his deputies began the procedure to remove Bauman from the chairmanship, the party launched an investigation into the complaints and Bauman said he would seek treatment for alcohol abuse. Within days, however, he had resigned from his position, shortly after Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom publicly called for him to step down.
Salazar on Tuesday declined to comment on whether the staff firings were connected to the investigation. He said it was “not unusual” to scale back party operations after an election.
But those fired comprised nearly the entire senior staff, including the party’s political director, operations director and creative director. Several told The Bee that they are now considering their legal options.
Former communications director John Vigna said he was fired on Monday without any warning. He was stunned, he said, because he had reported Bauman’s behavior to the party shortly before the election, after two of his employees complained to him about an incident on a campaign bus where Bauman allegedly asked them if they were in a sexual relationship.
Vigna said he still has not been contacted by the investigator. He added that he believes he may have been punished for coming forward about Bauman.
“I felt that I would not be included in any mass firing because I had done everything right by the book,” Vigna said. “I don’t see how it’s unrelated.”