The California Democratic Party is currently dealing with sexual misconduct allegations against its chairman, but 13 months earlier it was leaders within the Orange County Democratic Party and its affiliated Orange County Labor Federation who found themselves #MeToo’d.
In the wake of what’s happening with state party leader Eric Bauman, Orange County Young Democrats (OCYD) announced it will “honor the women who courageously spoke out last year against sexual harassment and abuse in Orange County Democratic politics.” How? By giving the OC Silence Breaker Award to Irlanda Martinez, Adriana Cortez-Luna and Erin Roberts during the 2018 Obama Awards ceremony on Dec. 8 at the Newport Beach Civic Center.
The trio will accept the award on behalf of themselves and multiple other women who used social media to share sexual misconduct allegations against Erik Taylor and Julio Perez, the former executive directors of the Orange County Democratic Party and Orange County Labor Federation respectively.
“In honoring these women, we are sending a clear message to the Democratic political community: Sexual harassment and assault have no place in our politics,” says Danielle Serbin, the OCYD chairwoman, in a statement. “Those who are brave enough to speak out are nothing short of heroes. It takes an incredible amount of courage–and often re-traumatization–to come forward, especially against entrenched political bosses. Our community is stronger because these women bravely shared their stories, and we commend the young staffers who are brave enough to speak out against–or anonymously report–an endemic culture of harassment.”
Serbin and OCYD are no strangers to the issue as she and her organization immediately called for Taylor and Perez’s removal from their positions of power after the stories of sexual harassment and assault were publicized in October.
By then, Taylor had already left his Orange County Democratic Party position to run the campaign of Phil Janowicz, a Democrat who at the time was seeking the same congressional seat that was recently won by Representative Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda). Taylor quit as campaign manager the same month. (Unrelated to that, Janowicz dropped out of the race in March.)
It took an internal Orange County Labor Federation investigation before delegates voted unanimously to fire Perez in January.
Orange County Young Democrats describes itself as one of the largest young Democrat organizations in the state with an active membership of over 300 who include “young attorneys, legislative aides, graduate students and business professionals from diverse backgrounds who share the common goal of advancing progressive and Democratic values in Orange County.”
They also no doubt monitor the Democratic values of the state party, which elected Bauman chairman at its annual convention in May 2017. The Bronx-born, former registered nurse has lived with his husband for many years in North Hollywood. Our former sister paper LA Weekly once dubbed Bauman a “kingmaker” in Los Angeles County Democratic politics.
Daraka Larimore-Hall, the California Democratic Party’s third in command, recently initiated the process to remove Bauman after learning of multiple incidents in which the chairman allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted individuals at party events. Larimore-Hall wrote in a letter to the party leadership that the victims’ “stories illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior,” although no further details about the accusations were detailed to protect the privacy of the accusers.
After the complaint became public, Bauman on Saturday announced the matter had been turned over to an outside investigator. By Monday, it was disclosed he would step down at least temporarily.
“After taking the holiday weekend to consider the most constructive path forward for the work of the California Democratic Party, Chair Bauman has made the decision to take a leave of absence as Party Chair effective at 5:00 pm today and through the conclusion of the independent investigation being conducted by a respected outside investigator,” says party spokesman Mike Roth in a statement. “Chair Bauman believes this decision is the best way to ensure the independence and integrity of the process. The Party is confident that the procedures in place will allow for all parties to come forward freely and provide for a thorough and complete review.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.