What I’ve Heard About Eric Bauman, Pedophilia, and the Politics of Personal Destruction


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Kimberly Ellis and Eric Bauman: a “heinous” attack and some constructive proposals.

[1] I Too Will Not Stay Silent

California Democratic Party Vice Chair and Candidate for Chair Eric Bauman has sent an email that reached my inbox at 11:20 this morning, entitled “I can no longer stay silent,” in which he asserts that voting delegates to the State Party Convention have been told that he has “been engaging in inappropriate behavior with 14 and 16-year-old-boys.”  The entire letter appears below, but here is the summary paragraph:

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.

In the spirit of his plea above, I think that it is time for me — as a State Party Delegate, an LGBT ally, a supporter of Bauman’s opponent Kimberly Ellis for Chair, and a friend and relative of one of Bauman’s strongest supporters in the party and the LGBT community, to tell the world EXACTLY what I have heard, up through the morning of May 7,  about Bauman’s engagement in pedophilia:

Nothing!

To the best of my recollection, I have never heard Bauman being accused of such behavior and I think that I would be in a pretty good position to have heard such rumors.  I have no reason to believe that such a charge is true.  And I condemn the spreading of such rumors, irrespective of whether the person doing so may believe them, because they are extraordinary claims and as such — especially at a time such as this! — should require extraordinary evidence.

(Note that I don’t call these charges “defamation” solely because defamation is necessarily false and I am in no position to judge whether they are false, despite that I do not personally believe them — just as you the reader are in no position to judge whether I am composing this post under the influence of PCP [n.b., I’m not, never touched the stuff] — because what matters here is solely the alleged reckless and irresponsible publication of such charges.  Speculation on the legitimacy of such charges is one of the few things here that will be deleted — until and unless someone presents good reason to think otherwise, these charges will be presumed to be untrue in this discussion, end of story.)

But that blade cuts both ways: I have ALSO never heard of ANY murmurs within the Kimberly Ellis campaign — in which I have no formal role but with whose supporters I have had plenty of contact with over the past year or so — that this charge was true of Bauman or that there was any plan, coordinated or wildcat, to spread such charges, as part of this election campaign or otherwise, regardless of whether the individual sharing them believed them or not.  As a political blogger in the area of the state that I understand to be most undecided in this election, and as a party member with some history of conflict with Bauman, I think I would also have been in a pretty good position to have heard about that.

I haven’t heard a peep about the existence of such charges or of any plan to “use them.”  If I had, I would have strongly counseled against it, even to people who believed such charges to be true, not only because it was unfair but because the loose engagement in such claims would so obviously be prone to backfire and work to Bauman’s advantage (in pretty much just this way.)

Here are some relevant things that I have heard:

  1. That, far from being on the cusp of resolution, some counts have Ellis ahead of Bauman by about 200 votes with about 400 uncommitted, and a late trend to people switching from Bauman towards Ellis (the third candidate, Lenore Albert-Sheridan, not being a factor);
  2. That French politician and later Socialist President Francois Mitterand was widely believed to have helped stage the notorious Observatory Affair” of 1959 — a political assassination attempt against himself by a French-Algerian separatist, foiled when he avoided a bullet by jumping into a hedge — in order to “give him cred” as a patriot and whip up support for him when Charles de Gaulle had initiated the Fifth Republic; and
  3. That plenty of delegates have informed Ellis supporters that, while they personally would like to support Ellis and hope that she wins, they feel that they have to vote for Bauman because doing otherwise would leave them open to retaliation (either from Bauman himself or his institutional supporters) and threaten either or both their jobs or political futures.

I mention the first point because it calls into question the credibility of much of the rest of Bauman’s statement.

I mention the second point not because it necessarily shows that Bauman or his supporters ginned up an attack against him (that I would not be well-positioned to know), but because it underlines the critical importance of getting to the bottom of such charges — as well as of verifying the charge that such charges have been made.

I mention the third point because it strikes me as a more consequential problem in this election (given that I don’t think that this “political assassination attempt” will do much of anything to turn votes away from Bauman, nor should it) and because I do have some productive responses to offer.  The distinction between (1) those who were allegedly told defamatory information about Bauman, and (2) those who allege that they themselves face threats of retaliation by Bauman or the people and interests behind him for supporting Ellis, even if they prefer her to be Chair, turns out to be pretty important.

I think that we can all agree that no one should expect someone who believes themselves to be under duress when it comes to voting in this election should be expected to identify themselves publicly for fear of inviting that retaliation.  But I also think that there is no shame in having been to whom a scurrilous attack on Eric Bauman has been directed, and thus there is no shame in identifying oneself.

[2] Some Constructive Proposals to Get Us Out of This Mess

So here’s what I can do as a bloggerand this proposal has neither been sent to nor cleared with anyone involved with the Ellis campaign:

PROPOSAL 1:

I propose that anyone who has had these charges made to them should write to me and identify themselves for publication in this site, with a cc of such email to be sent to the Bauman and Ellis campaigns so that they can also keep track.

To the extent that a given individual will only identify that they personally have had such a statement about Bauman made to them, that is useful.  To the extent that they can and will identify who made that statement to them and what exactly was said, that is even more useful, because it takes the prospect of reckless charges of pedophilia with the gravity that they deserve (and Bauman’s reaction to those charges with the respect that it deserves.)

I’ll keep a running tally publicly available here, with the post password protected so that only I can access it.  I would only urge that the people who report hearing of such charges — which, according to Bauman’s open letter, appear to have only begun having their impact this past Thursday — send that information immediately to me at “Managing Editor, Orange Juice Blog” at the following “@yahoo.com” address:

mail2greg4-thejuice

The reason that I ask for this information to be send immediately is to allow people who are accused of spreading such rumors ample time to rebut them, and to allow for exchanges that would allow us to determine whether the problem is direct contradiction between accuser and accused or some degree of misunderstanding or miscommunication between them.  I expect that I’m not the only one who suspects that there may be some “Observatory Affair” tinge to this accusation — and this, especially if it happens soon, offers a fair opportunity to allow Bauman to dispel any such suspicions.

That leaves the third problem I mention, duress, leading to two more proposals, also neither sent to nor cleared with anyone associated with the Ellis campaign.  Here’s what I can propose as a party member with a strong interest in fair process:

PROPOSAL 2:

All campaigns should release all delegates from any commitments that they have made, or may make, prior to their actual casting of votes.  Let’s place that official policy into the public record — so that if and when retaliation occurs afterwards against anyone who does not honor a promise to vote for a candidate, we know at least that the candidate who did not receive a promised vote will have publicly pledged not to take part in it.

PROPOSAL 3:

Let’s have a supplementary Australian (secret) ballot, to be filled out simultaneously with the official ballot, and with numbered ballots tabulated by both campaigns.  And let’s have all candidates agree that if the straw poll result differs from the public ballot result, the candidate who loses the straw poll will — as a matter of honor, not of legal obligation — withdraw from the race and ask that their ballots not be counted in the certification of the election on Sunday.

According to the CDP By-laws, every ballot cast in any formal party election must be cast publicly.  I think that there is clear wisdom in this policy, as delegates represent the public.  However, there are clear limitations to it as well, as delegates are individuals who are subject to both inducement and threats that might lead them to act against the general public interest.

The critical aspect of the By-laws is that they do NOT on their face prevent us from having a separate straw-poll ballot, which CAN be secret, which would be binding on the candidate who wins the formal ballot only as a matter of personal honor.  Such a ballot would, among other things, have the effect of removing the “cloud” over the winning candidate if too many party members believed that the victory had been gained by improper duress.  I would be MUCH more inclined to be supportive of Bauman as Chair if he were to win both a public AND a confidential vote, and given prior agreement to the campaigns I would expect Ellis to honor an agreement to stand aside if she won the public but lost the confidential vote — and would support efforts to remove her from office if she did not agree to do so.

The general problem with a confidential vote via Australian ballot is one of “ballot stuffing.”  In an election of this relatively small size, where voters could (1) receive a confidential ballot at the same time they turned in their formal ballot and (2) have the back of that ballot counter-signed by representatives of both leading campaigns on the spot, with each noting the time it was cast,, and then (3) when turned in a few yards away in the same line had its content immediately entered into a spreadsheet and witnessed by representative of both leading campaigns, I believe that the CDP could offer sufficient safeguards against that.

[3] Conclusion

Eric Bauman is absolutely correct that dissemination of these charges, at least without some awfully good evidence to believe them, is heinous and intolerable.  From what I’ve seen from and what contact I’ve had with Kimberly Ellis, I believe that she would agree.

And I think that calling for the RAPID AND RADICAL DISCLOSURE of the evidence regarding the facts surrounding the alleged dissemination of those charges is absolutely essential.  Bauman cannot be allowed to profit from pulling an “Observatory Affair” style stunt — as I do not believe he is — and he should not have to take office under a cloud due to people believing that he has done so.  But likewise, Ellis should not have to be the victim of the implicit allegation that she or her supporters were somehow involved in such an activity.  That may be less heinous, but it is still heinous enough to avoid.

However, I also think that we need to address the problem of people who prefer Ellis feeling that they have to cast their votes for Bauman due to the threat of personal or institutional retaliation against their jobs or party futures.  I’m certain that Ellis would feel that that sort of duress is out of line.  Some people might think that this is just part of normal politics — but I hope that Bauman himself is not among them.  (If he IS, then he should just take a deep breath and say so.)  To me, THAT TOO IS THE POLITICS OF “PERSONAL DESTRUCTION” — AND SHOULD BE CONSIDERED INTOLERABLE.

Other people may have their own reforms that are better than those proposed.  I welcome their submission and reserve the right to substitute them for my own.  I reserve the right to correct typographical errors, but any other changes will be noted in the text through the use of color and/or strikeout or other fonts.

This is being published at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 7.

EPILOGUE: Bauman’s letter:

Finally, and verbatim, here’s the body of the letter that Eric Bauman distributed this morning:

Fellow Democrats,

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.

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.

Last Thursday evening, 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.

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 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.

I will be a strong Chair, who fights for equality for all, for rights of working women and men, and to help those in greatest need and those at greatest risk. That’s what our Party stands for and requires – but the members of Party cannot go around acting like Donald Trump and his alt-right gang of thugs and expect voters to see us differently.

POST-EPILOGUE: Ellis’s Response

From Facebook:

Kimberly Ellis

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.

Democratically yours,
Kimberly Ellis


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.)