Two Weeks Gone and Bauman Still Hasn’t Named the Culprits. Maybe Soon?


 Powered by Max Banner Ads 

.

.

.

This *should* have been the easiest whodunnit in history!

Something truly rotten, and richly worth condemning, reportedly happened to Eric Bauman all of the sudden two weeks ago tonight. Let’s recall how he told the story, which I’ll annotate:

I had been planning to distribute a very exciting email this morning announcing that I just closed in on the number of committed delegates needed to win the California Democratic Party Chair’s race.

Even putting aside Gavin Newsom’s solo pas de deux of earlier this week, my understanding is that the Kimberly Ellis campaign had a very different count at the time, and my further understanding is that it has only gotten better from her perspective.  In other words, that announcement would have been wrong.

My encouragement was overshadowed by the shocking and horrible news I must share.

I am outraged about the latest tactic in the politics of personal destruction that have infected this race for CDP Chair.

Shocking, horrible, outrageous, “politics of personal destruction” — right on all counts.  It was a serious accusation that begged to be investigated until the wrongdoers were both repudiated and punished.

Last Thursday evening [i.e., two weeks ago tonight], my phone bank team started hearing from some delegates that they had “heard” that I have been engaging in inappropriate behavior with 14 and 16 year old boys. When I first heard it, I could not believe it and I brushed it off. Then, we heard it again on Friday and I became really angry. I’m a pretty tough guy and I can take the attacks, lies, distortions, and mud that has been slung at me pretty well.

But to accuse me of child abuse, especially of this nature, is beyond the pale and 100% unacceptable.

Emphasis added — and, again, he’s right about the stakes.  But let’s look closely at that first paragraph:

  • The reports from delegates started Thursday and were repeated on Friday.
  •  On Thursday, he “could not believe it” — which seems to mean that he doubted the source or sources — and so he “brushed it off.”

That’s his prerogative, but its unclear why he would do so.  This is NOT “just another mild affront.”  If I were making calls for a gay male candidate and heard this, that delegate’s name would be going up the chain of command right away.  If I received such a complaint from higher up the chain, I would seek authorization to make a deceptively calm-sounding follow-up call to check out who had said what and why.  If multiple reports had cropped up suddenly on the same night, suggesting that they were traced back to a common source (which could be a story or report, or could reflect a concerted campaign), I would be pounding on the door saying that we had to get to the bottom of it right away.  But if Bauman had heard only one report on Thursday, it makes sense that he might think that it was just an aberration.

  • On Friday, he heard about at least one caller hearing at least one other similar report from a delegate.
  • Now he “became really angry.”

We don’t know how many reports came in, or how many Bauman heard, on Thursday or Friday — and it would be nice to know, because it would explain why in the course of less than a day Bauman went from blasé to furious.  The subtext here is that if it was, say, one report on Thursday and nine more on Friday, it really starts to look coordinated — and also vast.

Consider: it’s unlikely that the campaign’s script involved some question like “so, heard anything about pedophilia lately?”  So whatever people heard would have had to be serious enough to lead a lot of people had to voluntarily report it to the campaign.  And they might well be the “tip of the iceberg,” suggesting that many more people had heard the rumor and not reported it.  Furthermore, it’s not like the Bauman campaign calls every delegate every night: if reports of calls from delegates come in randomly from various lists, the fact that you got a whole bunch of reports on a given night suggests that if you had happened to call other numbers that night, you would have gotten similar results.  Now we’re talking about something huge!

And let’s be real: the primary suspect in any such dirty trickery would be one’s political opponent.  Publicly reporting this event — which coincidentally came at the very moment that he tasted victory — cast a cloud of suspicion over the Kimberly Ellis campaign (and to a lesser extent the Lenore Albert campaign.)  If you care about not implicating your opponents falsely — AND YOU SHOULD! — then making accusations of heinous actions against one’s campaign carried with it an obligation to get to the bottom of the matter as quickly as possible.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was speaking with delegates, this issue came up again, this time, in the form of a delegate who knows me and is supporting me, who said to me, “You won’t believe what I heard…”

The truth is, I lost it. I became so enraged that my hands were shaking and I did not know what to do, where to turn, how to react.

I spent much of my evening sobbing, literally sobbing – a 58 year old man, inconsolable. Finally, my husband Michael convinced me to go with him for a long walk with the dog so we could talk and I’d be distracted.

I want to presume the complete literal credibility of this account: hearing someone he knew tell him this report in person, even with a preface suggesting that the person speaking to him did not personally believe it, drove him to an evening of inconsolable sobbing.  And well it might!  These accusations are horrific: easily made and impossible to refute without creating damaging associations in people’s minds.  (Less so the minds of DSCC delegates than voters in general, one hopes.)  And middle-aged men can feel their pain just as acutely as anyone else.  So maybe what he heard in person on Saturday was simply the last straw, as well as a sign that the spigot may not have been shut.

I want to say plainly: we Democrats cannot, must not accept or tolerate the spreading of despicable lies like this. It means we are no better than Trump with his character assassination tactics. WE MUST REFUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE DEMOCRATS TO GET AWAY WITH THIS TYPE OF HEINOUS AND OBNOXIOUS BEHAVIOR!

I have dedicated 30 years of my life to this Party. I do NOT deserve to be accused of being a pedophile in the name of trying to win an election. It is simply intolerable and unacceptable and each and everyone of you, whether you support me or not, must help put a stop to this hateful, reputation-destroying rhetoric.

Hear, hear!  Although note that he gives us a clue there in bold all-caps: this heinous and obnoxious behavior was apparently coming from “people who claim to be Democrats.”

“People who claim to be Democrats.”

That pretty clearly suggests that “the calls are coming from inside the house,” so to speak.  That wispy fog of suspicion towards Kimberly Ellis’s campaign in particular at this point condenses into a viscous thundercloud.

Bauman’s letter was received on Sunday afternoon, May 7.  Bauman must have understood that he had set his opponents’ campaigns directly in his sights.  His call to action is a bit more than merely “let’s all agree that people who tell such stories are wrong!”  (Yes!)  It’s not merely “let’s all condemn homophobia!”  (Right!)  It’s “DON’T LET OTHER DEMOCRATS DO THIS TO ME!”

At least one supporter, Jeff LeTourneau, understood this quite clearly, posting on Facebook that Ellis supporters should hang their heads in shame.  (I’d like to quite him verbatim, but the post was taken down.)  When I shared his post, though, I did include a comment from it that suggests its tenor:

“Handwringing. How would it not originate from the Ellis campaign? Such nastiness – and all it does is dis-illusion people who are trying to get on board with the Democratic party. Thanks for your post Jeff!”

Now let’s freeze time, choosing the moment when Kimberly Ellis first set eyes on Bauman’s public letter.  In this frozen moment … what do you expect the main characters in this saga to do?

You might expect Kimberly Ellis to step up and denounce such tactics in no uncertain terms.  And that’s what she did.  From my post of ten days ago:

I completely denounce it.

Just like you, I was shocked to read the email Eric just sent out.

I called Eric to express my outrage and sadness. I was not able to get him live but left a message and hope he will return my call when he is able.

These rumors are despicable and there’s no place in our politics for such outrageous behavior and I denounce any such type of cruel maligning of someone’s character.

While Eric and I have substantive differences, we also have had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time together on the campaign trail. Though there’s certainly a lot of passion on both sides, I’m proud of the mutual respect and courtesy we’ve show each other in our interactions.

My plan for the next two weeks of this campaign is to talk about the future of this Party. I hope Eric will join me in doing so too.

Clear, credible, and classy.  As I’ve said before, I think that I will truly enjoy being in a party led by Kimberly Ellis.

Now what would you have expected Eric Bauman to do, after leaving a cloud of suspicion hovering over the Ellis campaign?

How about … SOLVE THE MYSTERY!

As an Ellis supporter, I wanted to know exactly who did these things, so that I could kick them in the ass … or, put otherwise: “REFUSE TO ALLOW PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE DEMOCRATS TO GET AWAY WITH THIS TYPE OF HEINOUS AND OBNOXIOUS BEHAVIOR!”  I was raring to go.  Let me at ’em!”

Bauman had spoken directly to one person who had heard this libel against him.  He had reports from who knows how many others.  (Actually, we should all know — because it affects our understanding of whether this might have been a sole raving loony or a centrally controlled blitz campaign, among other possibilities.)  His campaign knows (or should know) the names of the people who made calls to delegates, and it knows (or should know) the delegates who reported this heinous behavior.  I wanted to know — from them — who told them what!  I hoped that it would clear the Ellis campaign from the clouds of suspicion laid upon it — but if it didn’t then at least it would allow the Ellis campaign to eject some bad eggs from its nest.

I said as much — in the spirit of “we Democrats cannot, must not accept or tolerate the spreading of despicable lies” — to Bauman supporters on one of their Facebook posts bemoaning how Bauman had been treated.

I did not get the reaction that I expected.

Let me explain that I can be gullible.  Here I was gullible twice.  First, I expected that Bauman would pursue the leads that would shed light on who had made these threats.  He had all of the information that he needed to start to investigate!

I wanted to know: did the reports continue?  (One can start a whisper campaign simultaneously in a lot of venues, but you generally can’t stop one on a dime.  You’d expect a continuing long tail of fallout from the initial article, video, or verbally whispered lie that initially gave life to these rumors.)

I wanted to know: how many different reports were there and what day did each take place?  (Again, this is useful to gauging how likely it was that an individual would have heard them — which was useful because it seemed that to a person Ellis supporters had the same experience that I did: we hadn’t heard a damned thing about these rumors until we read about them in Bauman’s letter.  Were we all excluded from some target list?)

And most of all, I wanted to know: who ARE the people who allegedly spread these rumors?  There’s no privacy interest in spreading libel.  I believe that Bauman appropriately characterized their serious … so, let’s start taking them seriously!

It’s been over a week and a half since the publication of Bauman’s letter.  I’m no longer seeing chatter about this at all.  It’s like it never happened.

That surprises me, because I accepted that there was probably some basis to the allegation that people had trafficked in these rumors — and it would be easy to hear from the people who claimed to have heard them who had made these claims.  (Was it Colonel Mustard in the Observatory?  Mrs. Peacock in the Dining Room?)

But the bigger surprise was the the Bauman supporters with whom I interacted didn’t want to know any clues that might lead to identifying the culprits.  That wasn’t the point, in their opinion.  The point was to denounce those rumors and the hurt they had imposed on Eric Bauman.  Anything else was out of bounds.

(Again, I had been gullible.)

They also felt that Bauman had NO RESPONSIBILITY to clear any cloud of suspicion that his open letter may have cast on the Ellis campaign, which I thought was in equal parts disgusting and pathetic.  After couching an accusation the way he did, as all but a direct accusation of wrongdoing on the part of at least Kimberly Ellis supporters, Bauman had a responsibility to use the information he had to set the record straight.  It’s already been eleven days and he hasn’t done so at all.  That’s really disturbing: raising innuendo and then letting it settle all over one’s opponent, to one’s own advantage.

I wanted to know who said what to whom in part because I know that sometimes miscommunications happen, especially in charged situations, and I wanted them to have a chance to defend themselves — if they could.  Maybe they were talking about Bauman messing around with 19-year-old boys — aka, “adult men” — which, whatever you (or his husband) might think about it, is not an accusation of pedophilia!  (I make no presumption that Bauman has made a practice sexual activity with such young men either.  Frankly, so long as he would not have strayed beyond freely consulting adults who were not his subordinates or employees, I really don’t consider it to be my business.)

I had one exchange, with Dante Atkins, that struck me hard enough that I screen captured it.  (Dante, who managed the campaign for Controller of Bauman’s former boss John Perez, has written that he considers Bauman to be both his patron and something like a surrogate father.  He’s a big fan.)  Here it is.

And that is my biggest fear about that the concluding chapter of this story might be: that there would be a sort of “October Surprise” — in this case a Friday Night or Saturday Morning Surprise — where certain individuals might be accused of having been the ones to have spread such rumors and a time when they were away from their home computers and might lack both the time and the access to their records that they would need to clear their names.

I honestly don’t think that that will happen.  I think that the cloud of suspicion planted over Ellis will have fully dissipated on its own, and that people will not be inclined this weekend to discuss such ugliness as what happened on the afternoon of May 7, 2015.  Whatever was supposed to happen did not — and Ellis supporters (with the obvious exception of me, and I do not speak for her campaign) seem disinclined to get to the bottom of whether she was a target of a dud sort of slander.

So I don’t think that the issue arises again this weekend.  Then again, I have at times been known to be gullible.


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.)