By: Christine Mai-Duc
The California Democratic Party has agreed to settle three lawsuits in an attempt to put to rest a scandal involving alleged harassment and misconduct by its former chairman.
In one of the cases involving three plaintiffs—Tina McKinnor, the party’s former operations director; John Vigna, its former communications director; and Spencer Dayton, an activist—who alleged sexual assault, harassment, and racial discrimination, the state Democratic Party is paying more than $1 million to settle, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
In addition, the state party said it has come to a settlement agreement with William Floyd, who alleged he was sexually assaulted by former party Chairman Eric Bauman, who resigned in late 2018, on multiple occasions while serving as his personal assistant.
The third case involved Brendan Stepp, a video editor who had been employed by the party and claimed Mr. Bauman repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances and harassed him.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys in all three cases confirmed settlements were reached or dismissal motions were filed recently.
The state party said in a statement Friday that it has reached all three settlements.
Another settlement, in which the party paid nearly $380,000 to three former employees who also alleged discrimination and harassment by Mr. Bauman, was reached in the fall and disclosed in campaign-finance filings.
The suits settled this week alleged a culture of harassment and retaliation that was enabled by top leadership.
Mr. Floyd first worked for Mr. Bauman when Mr. Bauman was chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and continued to work for him when his boss was elected state party chair in 2017. He claimed in his suit that he was repeatedly groped and sexually assaulted by Mr. Bauman.
“I’m ready to just move on from this entire thing,” Mr. Floyd, who left his job in August, said in an interview.
Ms. McKinnor, who is black, claimed she was discriminated against by Mr. Bauman. According to the lawsuit, he told her that her “style was ‘too urban’” to lead meetings and that the party was “not ready” to have an African-American interacting with major donors. Mr. Dayton claimed he was groped by Mr. Bauman at least two times. Mr. Vigna said in the suit that Mr. Bauman groped and harassed him on “nearly a daily basis,” repeatedly calling him “baby” and insisting Mr. Vigna call him “Daddy.”
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