A few simple questions the California Democratic Party Chair should be able to answer.
My first week of work at the California Democratic Party was during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. In between creating graphics, doing digital communications work, and literally climbing up to the roof to hang a banner supporting Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, I heard the almost constant deliberations on social media asking why she had chosen to come forward “just then.” Survivors often feel called to speak out more loudly and forcefully ahead of consequential dates that decide the futures of their abuser and their enablers, and even of fellow survivors. That is why I have spoken out about the behavior of many people in the Party, including the behavior of Chair Rusty Hicks, over the past few weeks as we prepare for next month’s convention.
I have been told many times by many different people that I have asked for answers from Chair Hicks in the wrong forum, the wrong way, or the wrong tone. All of these outreaches were apparently wrong: when I raised the alarm when he started dodging my texts and decided to break his pledge to immediately fire the law firm that defended an institution where I was forcibly raped, groomed, drugged, and coerced into covering up those violations at age 16; when delegates sent him a letter demanding answers about his failure to remove the firm that he didn’t even respond to; when I said that his inability to keep his word was evidence of why the CDP needed to work with survivors post-Bauman investigative report last year; when I co-authored a piece expressing my dismay at his refusal to answer questions about his conduct.
His answers to the below questions would provide some much-needed clarity, commitment, and pro-survivor affirmation from the Party. How can anybody trust that the CDP is changing and taking sexual misconduct seriously if its leader will not even bother answering survivors’ questions about his own behavior and the behavior of top Party officials?
I only request his honesty, his genuine effort, and his prompt attention.
- Will Chair Hicks be fulfilling the rest of the Survivors Pledge he signed two years ago as soon as possible? If he is not going to fulfill it, is he going to explain why and discuss ways that he can avoid this kind of institutional betrayal in the future?
- Vice Chair Alex Rooker and Controller Dan Weitzman both voted to protect the delegate status of a man that had been outed as a monstrous serial sexual predator months beforehand. Does the Chair believe that survivors can trust a Party where a decision was made that granted a violent abuser further legitimacy? What will he be doing to address their conduct?
I am not only publicly posting this plea — I also directly emailed Chair Hicks. The leader of a Party that claims to be effectively working towards being survivor-centered must follow through on his own promises and conduct towards survivors. At the very least, I, along with the delegates who petitioned the Chair to follow through on his pledge and the dozens of other survivors who have watched this brutal saga, deserve an explanation from the Chair.
It’s been two years. As ballots are being delivered today and voting begins immediately, Chair Hicks must defend his record promptly — Democratic voters deserve nothing less than full transparency. Survivors deserve nothing less than safety and honesty. We cannot trust a leader who lies and stews in silence, and I hope that coming forward more publicly about this “just now” will provide an opportunity for the Chair to reassure survivors, activists, and voters.
In strength and solidarity,