DPOC Insiders Cheat to Gain a CDP Chair Endorsement for Eric Bauman


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[Author’s note: If you’re not familiar with my writing, please know that I “write long” and include a fair number of digressions.  (Learned that from Herman Melville!)  This isn’t necessarily meant to be read at one sitting; I generally try to indent the parts that I think you can safely skip.  But if you want to know how Eric Bauman mustered his support in OC in a highly questionable endorsement process, here’s how it happened in rich detail.]

(1) All for the Sake of a Headline

On the same day that California candidate for Governor Gavin Newsom would roil the waters of the California Democratic Party by endorsing (or dual-endorsing, or something) Kimberly Ellis for CDP Chair — generally taken as a capitulation born of the growing sense that Ellis is likely to gain a once-improbable upset victory — the big talking point of Ellis’s opponent Eric Bauman was to crow over his supposed endorsement by the Democratic Party of Orange County, or DPOC.  (He also took credit for gains made by Sharon Quirk-Silva in the Assembly and Josh Newman in the State Senate — which, for those of us involved in those campaigns, was a sick joke.)  [Update: Newman’s campaign manager Derek Humphrey wrote to say that Bauman was helpful in the general election.  Be that as it may, he was antagonistic to Newman in the extremely critical primary election, where Newman was the “outsider” candidate.]

That headline was months in the making — and it exposed some of the worst “rigging of the system” that has outraged rank-and-file Democrats and our allies for, especially, the past two years.  The election was a sham; the process was absurd; the result was illegitimate.

That result was that 30 people had votes recorded for Eric Bauman, 17 had votes recorded for Kimberly Ellis, two of the 50 votes were for the marginal candidate Lenore Albert (one of them being her own), and one vote was for the DPOC to make No Endorsement.  In other DPOC elections, a 60% vote is needed to endorse, and that rule was — properly — imported for use here.  With 50 signed and identified ballots cast, Bauman won exactly 60% — which would seem to give him the victory.

But another part of those rules — just as properly applied in this “election” that has no basis in the CDP Bylaws as the “60%” criterion — says that members have to have the opportunity to choose an position of “No Endorsement” on the ballot itself.  This is critical because there is always a case to be made that in a given election the party is better off acting not as an coherent body where 60% of the vote rules, but as an assembly of individuals who all have their own opinions, and that our influence on other voters (both within the county and the state) should not involve suppressing the views of a substantial (40%) minority, but should rise or fall based on the personal reputations and influence of those (in this case) 30 voters.  There is a case to be made that imposing the will of the 60% majority over that of the 40% minority — all for the sake of a headline in one candidate’s press release — is harmful to the party and its purpose.  Voting “No Endorsement” — even if one personally has a heartfelt position — allows that sentiment that we should NOT flex our collective muscle here to be expressed.

The ballots to be used in this election were printed with four choices: Albert, Bauman, Ellis, and No Endorsement at the bottom.  That is what I remember the decision of the Executive Committee, as applied to THIS election, to have been.  (As I recall, we did vote on whether to eliminate the No Endorsement option in future elections to party office, but not for this one.)  The Executive Director, who sat in that meeting, apparently had the same impression, which is why the No Endorsement option was included on the printed ballot.

As an Ellis supporter, I spent the hours before Monday’s meeting lobbying people to vote for No Endorsement if they did not have a strong feeling that the party should endorse, and several people agreed that that was their inclination.  I confirmed with DPOC Chair Fran Sdao — who was one of the DPOC’s seven officers who supported Bauman — that “No Endorsement” would be an option on the ballot; she agreed that it would.  I expected a lot of people to take advantage of that option.  So, apparently, did Bauman’s supporters, led by Bauman’s longtime great friend and admirer Jeff LeTourneau (who is also my brother-in-law and, prior to this year and even most of the time until this month, usually my strong political ally.)

When LeTourneau saw the ballots with the No Endorsement option included, he met with Sdao — and they had DPOC staff go find a paper cutter and literally cut the No Endorsement option off of the bottom of the ballots.

That was the only way that Bauman could win and get that headline.  So that is what they chose to do.  Here’s an photo of an unaltered purple ballot — literally slanted on the bottom due to the hastily applied paper cutter — lined up against the right edge of a green piece of paper.

The DPOC’s slanted ballot.

The ballot did the trick.  Voters who personally favored Bauman (or Ellis, I presume) but thought that the DPOC should not endorse had no official way to express that sentiment.  One intrepid voter, as noted above, expressed it anyway, writing in “No Endorsement” to the right and drawing a big box around it.

The punch line?  That vote was disallowed.  Sdao’s argument was that if one couldn’t write in another candidate’s name, one also couldn’t write in “No Endorsement.”  So the official total — see the note below — was 30 for Bauman, 17 for Ellis, 2 for Albert: 61.2% for Bauman.   If even the two people who told me that they intended to vote No Endorsement had done so, Bauman’s margin would have shrunk to 59.6%.

Feel welcome to skip the following note, which is even more “in the weeds.”

Note: actually, 57 people turned in ballots, eight of which were disqualified.  The “No Endorsement” ballot has already been mentioned.  One other properly signed ballot was left blank; I called that person up to the counting table (where I represented the Ellis campaign) and asked if the intent was to vote for No Endorsement, and the person replied that the intent was to indicate being truly undecided.)  On one ballot, the voter had written in Eric Bauman’s name rather than his or her own and their signature was illegible. Five ballots included the voter’s correct name but were not signed; Lenore Albert argued successfully that counting them would violate party rules.  The Chair, blind to how they voted, agreed.  It turned out that all five voted for Bauman — but it is unclear whether any of them intentionally didn’t sign their ballot in order to disqualify it.  There were later some rumblings that those last six ballots should be counted, but Bauman’s campaign manager Clark Lee did not push for that.  Other Bauman proponents argued that they shouldn’t be counted because they wouldn’t change the result, which suggests that they would have been counted had they been “necessary” for Bauman to win.  With the ability to easily uphold any ruling on ballot legitimacy by the sympathetic Chair, Bauman supporters could have achieved pretty much whatever result they desired.

Believe it or not, it gets worse from there, but I’ll stop for an aside.

(2) A Personal Aside

Let’s indent this so you’ll know that you can skip it.

It may seem like I consider Sdao and LeTourneau the villains of this piece.  I don’t.  There is, in my opinion, some villainy at work in rigging OC votes in this election for Bauman, but it comes from other sources.  Sdao, whom I barely knew before this year but have come to really like, is under a lot of duress from party insiders of far longer standing than hers.  While I consider some of LeTourneau’s actions in this election — one’s I’ve not yet described — to be quite unethical, I also know that they do not derive from a desire for personal enrichment or thirst for power, but from a profoundly felt commitment to LGBT causes and appreciation for the role that Bauman has played in mentoring LGBT youth as a party official.  (LeTourneau has been OC’s leading gay rights activist for decades and I consider him a capital GM “Great Man.”)  I respect and honor his motivation for supporting Bauman, even if I don’t think it actually excuses any skeevy actions, but I don’t privilege the desire to promote an openly LGBT person to this position over the profound desire that some of those supporting Ellis may feel to have a woman of color lead the nation’s largest state party.  My preference for Ellis over Bauman isn’t based on demographics, but because I think that Bauman would be an autocratic leader — as it has been described, “Bauman, Party of One” — who won’t brook dissent and Ellis (both as a relative outsider and based on her own temperament) will be the opposite of an autocrat: a respectful consensus-builder, what we might call “Ellis, Party of Everyone.”  I don’t feel the need here to weigh the political value of gay man versus woman of color — and I thank God for that!

As I was there throughout the portion of the process that took place in party meetings, from the proposal of an endorsement vote to the ballot counting and beyond, I will give my testament here.

I find doing so personally painful because of the strong likelihood that it will ruin some relationships I care about deeply.  But political corruption succeeds in part by convincing people to put the comfort of such personal relationships above the general interest, above one’s fiduciary responsibility (if one so feels it) to whom one represents. And I say, to hell with that.  I will continue to sit in DPOC meetings, both the general Central Committee meetings and the Executive Committee, until I am expelled from them.  The DPOC has been too wrong about too many things for too long to care too much about how its insiders feel.  I’m elected to resist such pressures, not cave in to them.

OK, that’s done, and it’s fine if you skipped it — except that if so you should probably go back and read the portion in bold.

(3) Why We (Some of Us, Anyway) Thought That the DPOC Could Endorse

I’ll be frank: this section will be boring for most people.  The takeaway is that we had no official ability to “endorse” as such, so we made up some rules.  But, we didn’t keep good track of what rules we had made up — which naturally became a problem.  It was, to put it mildly, a situation ripe for abuse.

Jeff LeTourneau (who I’m going to hereafter refer to as “Jeff” because it doesn’t seem as weird) and I had been dueling about the No Endorsement option for literally months.  I preferred that DPOC conduct a signed straw poll and publicly report the results by name, with whatever influence each member had upon other voters being allowed to have its effect, because that seemed to be not prohibited by the Bylaws and had the advantage of generating less strife.  Jeff very badly wanted Bauman to be able to have the headline statement of an official DPOC endorsement.

One problem with Jeff’s position is that the DPOC’s Bylaws have had no provision to allow to make such an endorsement; another was that we had insufficient time remaining to amend them.  Here’s all that Article XXI of our Bylaws says about endorsements: (1) As a group, we can’t endorse candidates in Presidential elections, though we can do so as individuals prior to the end of the national convention.  (2) For statewide offices and national and state legislative officers, the latest published version of our bylaws says simply that we defer to the CDP Bylaws.  (3) We can endorse for or against local ballot measures.  (4) The only candidates we can endorse are for non-partisan local offices within Orange County.  There’s no mention of endorsement for state party offices — and after this year’s experience I think that that omission may be intentional.  Article XXI Section 3(a), the rules for local offices, is as close as we ever come to relevant rules.

That Article states the following rules:

  1. Bylaws covering such endorsements must have been made in accordance with County Committee bylaws adopted at least six (6) months prior to making such endorsements.
  2. Voters must have the option of supporting “no endorsement.”
  3. An affirmative vote of sixty percent (60%) of those members voting is required for an endorsement.
  4. We can’t endorse more candidates for an office open positions.
  5. Other provisions clearly didn’t apply: that a vote could be taken only if a candidate requested one in writing and paid a $50.00 fee; all candidates must then be notified in writing of the date, time and place of all relevant meetings and of their right to consideration; we keep proof of service on file; no endorsements possible until the filing deadline has passed.

Of these, the most informative is probably the first one, the spirit of which I’d translate roughly as “don’t let a small number of people screw around with the endorsement rules through unofficial processes in the immediate run-up to an election.”  In other words, if you want an official endorsement, you have to get broad enough support for a formal and fixed change to the Bylaws with plenty of time to spare.  We did the exact opposite of what is demanded by the paraphrase in bold italics.

Having trashed the spirit of rule 1, we in the Executive Committee ignored all of rule 5 (the vote was initially intended to take place BEFORE the filing deadline had ended!), accepted rule 4 because of course, and — MY RECOLLECTION IS — accepted rules 2 and 3: allowing for a No Endorsement option and setting a threshold of 60%.  And then we were going to call the endorsement “official,” to get Bauman the headline he craved.

Well, what were the rules to be?  Here are the verbatim minutes (with the name of the person second a motion redacted for privacy reasons) of our sole item of New Business for our April 10 Executive Committee meeting:

  1. CDP Chair: Schedule an endorsement vote at the May Central Committee: Motion (Jeff Letourneau)/ Second (________): Passed

NOT TOO INFORMATIVE, EH?  The minutes of April’s Central Committee meeting don’t even mention that body even receiving information about approving a vote at the May meeting — let alone the procedures that had supposedly been adopted.  The operative rule was literally this:

“trust the memory of the Bauman supporters who had pushed through the decision, and unless you have a 2/3 vote to override the Chair that’s just how it’s going to be.”

Because this was, without question, an Eric Bauman-directed operation, that should scare the everloving effluvia out of DSCC delegates considering how things would run in a Bauman-led California Democratic Party.  Here it was “by hook or by crook, what the Chair wants is what goes.”

Jeff’s theory of the Bylaws was, quite literally, “if it doesn’t specifically say that we can’t do it, that means we can do it.”  We Democrats have seen this sort of philosophy operating in Congress for much of the past 23 years — and we don’t like it!  Why, then, should we tolerate it here?

The takeaway from this section, as we move to discussion of the meeting, is that when people act like the procedure for this “endorsement” was written in stone rather than in soap on a car window, they’re being absurd.  This was a lawless action from the outset, while a straw poll — for example, with motions made favoring each of the three candidates, with roll call votes held for each, so that a person could support all three or oppose all three (with a separate roll call vote taken at the outset as to whether we should refuse to vote at all) — would have been completely permissible under the rules, precisely because it would NOT have been an official DPOC endorsement.

Ah, but that would have denied Eric Bauman the headline that he desperately — especially by this week — wanted.  On to the meeting.

(4) At the Meeting

As part of her Chair’s report, Fran Sdao (who, because I do like her personally, from here on I’d call “Fran”) said that purple cards such as those pictured above were being passed out.  (I got mine, as I recall, somewhat late in the distribution process.)  I didn’t look at it immediately, and when I did I noticed that (1) they were weirdly shaped and (2) they were for the election.  After a moment, it clicked in that there was no “No Endorsement” option on the cards.  I resolved to bring up the matter before voting officially opened and I focused on Fran’s presenting her long-awaited “Strategic Plan” — a very big moment in her tenure as Chair.  I focused in closely.

After a while, I got distracted.  I noticed that not everyone was paying such close attention.  In fact, while voting had not officially been opened, people had begun trundling over to (and by that point returning from) the corner of the room where Fran’s newly appointed assistant was sitting with the ballot box.

I knew that this was wrong.  Omission of a “No Endorsement” option — the right to say “we should not be doing this at all!” — should invalidate the election.  Do I interrupt Fran’s big presentation?  Roberts Rules would say yes; common courtesy said no.  I thought to myself, “no big deal, we can just substitute a roll call vote,” as I’d originally thought was preferable — so long as people didn’t leave.  I was sitting along the way to the door and a few people did start to leave.  I jumped up and told them that they should stay.  They asked me why, and I said that I’ll explain when Fran was done.  Grudgingly — one of the people wanting to leave was my daughter — they agreed to stay.

I asked someone who would know why the No Endorsement option was omitted.  The answer floored me: they had been printed up with such an option, but Fran and Jeff met shortly before the meeting, without the party officer supporting the Ellis campaign present, and Jeff convinced Fran that they should be cut out — and so they were (at unusual angles).  I was wearing a raspberry colored shirt and could feel my face changing color to match it.

When Fran finished and the applause stopped, I stood up, steadied myself by putting my chair in front of me because I was literally shaking (and not with fear), and made a motion that the ballots be disallowed because of the absence of a “No Endorsement” option and that we have a roll call vote instead.

Jeff was called up and — he’s a wonderful speaker — heaved a sigh to the audience and told them that he knew that I was likely to make such an objection but he hadn’t known what form it would take.  The process was very clear, he said, that the Executive Committee had decided that there would be no “No Endorsement” option, and that I knew it.

I think that what came next happened after Jeff spoke, but while I know that it happened the sequence is no longer clear.  I reminded Fran that that very afternoon I had sought to confirm with her that there would be one — which had led to my lobbying people to take that option all afternoon — and that I would read the email for people to refresh her memory.  Here’s my screenshot of that email:

Fran became agitated, unusually for her, and told me that I could NOT read the email.  But I’ve learned from the best of them, a guy named LeTourneau whom I’ve seen bowl over presiding officers at Council meetings and Central Committee meetings under the previous Chair, and I knew that in such a situation one just has to speak louder.  This was a farce and a reversal of a pledge at the behest of one of Bauman’s closest friends, and people had to know.

(As I’ve said, I like and respect Fran, and I think that when she does things I object to it is generally under duress.  This email testifies to that: neither of the previous two DPOC Chairs would have replied to me at all, let alone to have upheld my recollection of the outcome of the Executive Committee meeting.  She’s a decent person and I do not lay what happened later at her feet.)

As I well knew, speaking over the efforts of the Chair to prevent the membership from learning of her earlier statement is not a way to appeal to people.  The ballots were already in, with a few exceptions, by that time, so it didn’t affect the result.  What it did affect was the non-voting audience in the back of the hall, which suddenly understood that skullduggery was going on.

 

Jeff openly admitted that the “No Endorsement” option had been excised from the ballots, which he assured the audience were in error.  My motion to substitute a roll call with a No Endorsement option was soundly defeated.

But my memory was correct: it was the straw poll option had been rejected and removing a No Endorsement option would be part of a proposed Bylaw that would apply to future years’ elections (in accordance with Rule 1 above.)  Jeff probably does remember it otherwise, but I’d call that wishful thinking: both Fran (in that email) and the person who printed off the ballots in accordance with notes on the Executive Committee’s orders remembered it my way.  And, of course, our woefully inadequate meeting minutes offered no useful guide.  There were no actual rules to speak of; there was only an objective — the “Bauman Endorsed” headline.  It didn’t so much matter how we got there.

Again, the worst on this score is yet to come.

(5) A Hot Argument and a Cooling-Off Period

I checked in to the corner hosting the ballot box a bit later, either to ask a question or to deposit my own ballot.  On my way back, I had to pass by Jeff, who was standing near the side exit door.  I’m not sure what to call the look I gave him, so let’s go with “stinkeye.”  His reaction threw me off guard.

He put out his hands as if he were to catch a basketball and said three words:

“Don’t blame Fran!”

For some reason, this set me off.  I blamed him, not Fran, for pulling a fast one.  His nobly offering to take the blame that he suggested I might place on her seemed, at that moment, to be obscene.  I walked up to him and, I’m told, emitted something like a loud growl:

“I DON’T blame Fran!”

This devolved into a short argument in which Jeff seemed (and probably was) shocked by my reaction to him.  He sought refuge in our being in-laws.

“We are FAMILY!”

My response to him was along the lines of “so what?”  Jeff comes from a political family in the Chicago suburbs that prospered under the first Mayor Daley, and tells great stories about the free-wheeling, brass-knuckles, politics of the day.  His support for Bauman that night, with its complete disregard for anything except obtaining the desired end, seemed of a piece with that.  But that’s not my family tradition and it’s not the way I wage a political battle.

We jawed at each other for a moment, my arms remaining at my sides.  Neither of us wanted a physical confrontation; this was a moral disagreement.  At one point he thought I was too close to him and I immediately backed away, making a gesture to show that I was now at greater than arm’s length.  Then it seemed like a dozen people — all but one a Bauman supporter, as I recall — descended upon us to break up a non-existent fight.  One friend of Jeff’s came closer to me and I asked him to back off.  “No,” he said.  “Oh, really?” I thought to myself, and simply turned my back on him.

Fran herself came up and at that moment I felt truly sorry for her.  We spoke briefly; remembering what Jeff had said, I told her that I didn’t blame her what was happening, and she acknowledged that and asked me to step outside to cool off.  I confirmed with her that I’d be able to return inside to monitor the ballot count for the Ellis campaign — which I’d done for Jeff’s campaign four month’s previous when he was elected Vice Chair — and she agreed.  I gladly left.  (Some people inside the hall apparently thought that I was ejected from the meeting, a consequence that would have required a 2/3 vote, etc.  Thanks, guys, but no.  This was just compliance with a courteous request.)  The night air felt good.

I was outside for about twenty minutes, talking to other Ellis supporters who were worried about me, some of whose identities surprised me and bolstered my spirits.  I eventually circled around the back of the building and came into the DPOC office, sitting at our conference table, checking mail, talking a bit with a couple of our interns, chilling out.

The conference room abuts the anteroom to the union hall, to which the door was ajar.  After a while, I heard Jeff outside, talking to people about what had just happened and denying that he had done anything underhanded, based on his “theory of the Bylaws” described above, that we had carte blanche to set the rules as we saw fit where the Bylaws were silent and that we had.  I was over twenty feet away and they couldn’t see me, but the more the argument progressed the sadder I felt, because this philosophy seemed to me to represent what life would be like in the Democratic Party under Eric Bauman.  Power plays, pointless squabbles, earnest justification to other political insiders that what one had just done was not actually wrong — while party-outsider activists (there that night in the back row), judging from contemporaneous Facebook posts, looked on in horror.

My only regret at that moment about having been outside for that time period was that I had missed the DPOC Secretary’s Report, because I had had a question for Anita Narayana.  Suddenly, I heard Narayana’s voice over the mic — I hadn’t missed it after all — so I returned to my seat.

[6] The Secretary’s Report

I had walked out of the April DPOC meeting while having in a nice conversation with Unite-HERE’s Ada Briceño about, among other things, the Chair’s race.  (Kimberly Ellis had spoken to the DPOC and the public that night, as had Bauman in March and Lenore Albert this past Monday.)  She was very excited because she had been just appointed to the DPOC as an Alternate for Ed Lopez, a decent and wonderful guy who was just elected to the North Orange County Community College District.  I congratulated her, which also involved some expression of sympathies, and we talked about her support for Bauman for Chair. While I disagreed with her, it was a very pleasant and earnest conversation, as such discussions ought to be.

While we were outside, Ada was being removed as Ed Lopez’s DPOC alternate.

Florice Hoffman is DPOC Treasurer and Director of the CDP’s Region 17 in Orange County.  She has emerged as Fran’s closest advisor — the person from whom Fran seeks guidance on the dais — which is ironic, as I’ve been told that she was part of the group (her very close friends Melissa and Michael Fox are the major figures here) that was scrambling up until almost the last minute to find ANY alternative to Fran as Chair.  [UPDATE: Michael Fox has written in to say that they only favored Jeff LeTourneau as a candidate over Fran Sdao, and that when he refused to run they favored Fran.  Fran was ultimately elected unanimously.]  Hoffman had made a beeline for Ed Lopez at the end of the April meeting to get him to sign a form to make Steve Blount — who had become a Republican last I remembered when he ran for his own seat on the same Community College Board as Ed — his DPOC alternate for just a month.  This would allow Blount to serve as the proxy for Michael Fox, who would not be able to attend the convention himself.  Ada was already elected to be a State Party delegate separately, so this would give Orange County one more vote.  (Not coincidentally, it would mean one more vote for Bauman.)

What Ed Lopez didn’t know is that it would also mean one fewer vote for Ellis.  Lopez was elected to the DPOC in January, and had thought that he had become a DPOC delegate.  According to Narayana — who is very close to Hoffman — he had never asked to be part of the delegation, even though he’d have had priority.  One empty spot remained on the delegation — and when Lopez appointed Blount his alternate Narayana, the consequence was that Lopez himself would be squeezed off of the delegation.  Sure enough, he is not attending the convention.

(Being a Regional Director comes with a lot of power — and that power is easily abused.  People in Region 17, support Mirvette Judeh to replace Hoffman!)

The other thing I had wanted to ask out about was reports that when people were asking Hoffman if they could become proxies to the upcoming convention, she has been telling at least several of them that she could get them a proxy on the condition that they would agree to vote for Bauman for Chair and for her rather than for Mirvette Judeh.

People were understandably scandalized by this — as was I until I calmed down and thought it through.  While a clear conflict of interest, it was not necessarily damning.  If a delegate approached Hoffman to ask her to help her find them a proxy, and if they initiated the conversation saying that they wanted only someone who would vote for Bauman and Hoffman, then surely Hoffman could do so — at least if she would seek to use the same effort to find someone who wanted a proxy to support Ellis and Judeh.  Otherwise, she should not be involved in the process; it’s an example of “rigging an election.”

Two other possibilities for what could be happening with Hoffman finding convention proxies are even worse.  First, she could be making up the supposed conditions — that the proxy would have to vote for Bauman and Hoffman — entirely on her own.  I won’t venture an opinion as to whether she’d do that, but clearly one would want to have a transparent process in place to prevent it.  The second possibility is somewhere in between: the person seeking the proxy could have placed the condition on the appointment, but only after Hoffman herself had raised the issue.  (A person appointing a proxy has the option of letting their appointee follow their own conscience in voting.)  This is what lawyers call “undue influence,” and (in my opinion at least) it is to be avoided.  If Region 17 had a pro-Ellis and pro-Judeh Regional Director, who was setting conditions on who could receive a proxy, I would expect Hoffman to be the first (and loudest) to scream bloody murder about it.

The first step to figuring out what was going on, though, was simply to ask “is there a list of people who have asked for proxies and what if any conditions they set on their appointments?”  This is a truly basic step towards ensuring accountability in the process.

I asked the question of Narayana.  I couldn’t get an answer from her.  Hoffman, her political “godmother,” stepped up to the mic and explained that if the person had wanted to put conditions on the appointment then of course it had to be honored.  I told her that I understood that, but that I first wanted to know whether there was even a list of people who had sought proxies, so that an independent party could verify with them that they had set the condition that Hoffman then sought to impose.  (The question of whether Hoffman had herself unduly influenced them to set such a condition — seriously, should people be put in the condition of having to tell the Regional Director “find me someone who will vote against you?” — only arises at this point.)

Without a list, though, one couldn’t even begin to ask such questions.   So was there a list?  They didn’t understand the question, or they wouldn’t answer it, or there wasn’t a list, or if there was a list it wasn’t publicly available, or something like that, and eventually we moved on.  I have no idea what the truth is there.

To be clear, this doesn’t prove that Hoffman has been systematically using proxies to stack the deck in her own election as well as the Chair’s race with voters who are to her liking.  It just means that we have no way of knowing and no system in place to impose any transparency or accountability on the process.

One would think that the Regional Director would have thought about this problem — at least once she started telling people that she couldn’t appoint them as proxies because they wouldn’t agree to vote for her!  Knowing Mirvette Judeh, I cannot imagine her failing to keep a publicly accessible list of open proxy requests and handing over the responsibility for filling them to a neutral third party.

I see a difference there between a Bauman versus an Ellis approach to party politics; you may certainly disagree.  Either way, it seems like a significant problem — and we didn’t get even one step towards answering it on Monday night.  Note also that this is a fairly complex and subtle problem and I have little doubt that many members who didn’t understand the problem thought that I was browbeating Narayana and Hoffman over it.  I hope that this clarifies things.

(7) The Vote Count

And at last we get to the vote count, where our story began a half-hour’s read ago.  You already know the result.  What you don’t know is what came just before it.

Jeff LeTourneau was obviously worried — given the vote count, he should have been, and he surely knows how to count votes — as the election approached.  And he started to talk to Fran about provisions for a runoff — where we would discard the candidate with the fewest votes (“sorry, Lenore!”) and then move on from there.  Again, the idea was to push people to make a decision solely between Bauman and Ellis SO HARD that Bauman would get to the magic — and completely arbitrary — 60% figure that would get him his headline.

Jeff said that the Executive Committee had approved a “second round” of some sort.  No, we hadn’t.  I don’t even recall our discussing it.  Logistically, it would have required a lot of planning, because unless one did something like craft a ballot with a single transferable vote, it would have meant people casting a second ballot.  That ballot should, at a minimum, be a different color.  We did not have such ballots prepared!  Furthermore, people had left after the initial vote, under the (correct) impression that it was the only vote scheduled.

Jeff was making up a rule that might save Bauman’s precious headline — apparently right on the spot.  When people talk about “fixing an election,” this is the sort of thing they mean.  Again, given that Jeff is a devoted LGBT activist with decades invested in Eric Bauman as the premier mentor in the California Democratic LGBT community, I completely understand that he sought to ensure this result with the noblest of intentions based on what he believes is of overriding importance.  The problem is that THIS IS CHEATING and rules must exist to protect the process especially from those with such fiercely noble intent.  That’s part of what “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” means.  For Fran to have consulted privately with Jeff prior to the meeting was, for this reason, a terrible mistake.  He cares so much about this that he could not help but influence her; my issue, again, is the unsexy one of procedural fairness.

But Bauman won the rigged vote — some people switched to his side at the last minute, some gave in when the No Endorsement option was wrenched away from them — so Jeff can be gracious.  I can’t: not because my candidate lost, but because the process was so badly flawed.

[8] The Money Shot

And this — with the effect that the Bauman campaign hopes that it will have on voters this weekend — was what it was all about.

By the way: Bauman has if anything impeded the success of OC Democrats this decade.  He was associated with the group pushing to nominate Sukhee Kang rather than Josh Newman to the SD-29 Senate seat (Kang would have been slaughtered by Ling-Ling Chang) and it was the State Democrats whose meddling helped Sharon Quirk-Silva lose to Young Kim in AD-65 in 2014.  Plenty of OC activists are highly pissed off at his credit-claiming Facebook post.  (And yes, I know that Newman and Quirk-Silva have endorsed Bauman over Ellis.  They’ve been under tremendous pressure to do so — a situation that will change after Ellis is elected.

The funny part is: the growing sense within the party seems to be that Bauman will lose to Ellis — and that his heavy-handed bullying tactics, and his alienating “win at all costs” philosophy to internal party politics — will have been a big part of the reason why.  Maybe — maybe — Democrats are about to learn a big lesson, one applicable nationally, that will help us get us out of our hole.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)