Save Our Survivors: New CDP Allegations Deserve Immediate Action
I wouldn’t usually be so open about the fact that a majority of this piece was drafted in the middle of the night — or, rather, early this morning, circa 2am — but I want to make sure people know that this is something I have lost sleep over. It’s not something I take lightly.
Since Monday night, I’ve been on sick leave from my work at the Party. The mental stress of this situation takes a physical toll after a while in general, and it’s so easy for a single trigger to just escalate that. Part of that in my case is nightmares and insomnia, of course, but right now, there’s this odd third part in the mix: being terrified, exhausting all my options, and not knowing what to do.
On Monday night, I received an email from an anonymous individual purporting to have formerly been involved with the lawyers the CDP is using in this case — namely, Delfino Madden. The email laid out a number of allegations that could affect every single member of the Party and every single survivor who wants to come forward with their stories in California politics.
Some of the email’s contents include allegations that the Human Resources Manager of the Party was the one who knowingly kept Delfino Madden on, despite knowing their history with me and the potentially compromising nature of it, as well as claims that even Eric Bauman himself saw the potential disaster coming and urged the Party to recuse the firm from this case.
Perhaps most disturbingly for all of us who have rallied around the idea of immediately course-correcting to a restorative justice based firm, the former staffer says this: “I was told that Delfino Madden itself has actually hired some very high powered Sacramento and San Francisco lawyers to protect itself and its lawyers and to make sure that they stay in power here. They do not want to lose the California Democratic Party account.”
Part of me, horrified and distressed after reading the whole email, wanted to be able to brush it off. But this person communicated their willingness to anonymously speak to a reporter to verify the basic tenets of their background. That’s when I realized that I think they’re telling the truth, but I also realized it doesn’t really matter — because real or fake, the email presents a catch 22 that demands emergent action.
I’m not really sure that there’s a word for how I felt when I got that email, but I do remember the sinking feeling I got with the text messages that preceded it. Monday originally felt like the day that the tides were turning. I had managed to regain hope. I was beyond encouraged to see that a majority of Chair candidates had quickly signed the Survivor’s Pledge — a gesture that made me at least a little reassured in the future of the Party. (That list of signees now includes Rusty Hicks, Kimberly Ellis, VC Larimore-Hall, and Mike Katz-Lacabe — nearly every candidate running for Chair)
And then on Monday afternoon, I got a text message from a throwaway number. This person asked for my email address and said that they had information I might find interesting. I immediately felt dread. There are so, so many things that could be interesting to me, but anybody offering me information in this case that’s “interesting” is probably going to be the bearer of extremely awful news.
But even given that, I wasn’t expecting the email to be from an anonymous person who, up until recently, worked with the CDP’s lawyers. The full email is in line below, as well as linked here.
“I was sickened by what I learned about them and their relationship with the California Democratic Party.”
“When Amy first called Shaye, she did not know about your history with Delfino Madden, but she sure learned about it quickly. And they both knew that they had a really good tool to silence any complaint that you had.”
“Daraka Larimore-Hall was the only other person who knew what Delfino Madden did to you. Daraka did not want to make waves with Delfino Madden and with Amy Varattors and her husband, because it would interfere with his running for the chair position.”
“[Bauman] was an easy scapegoat…so what was the big deal if he got accused of doing a few more things?”
“They are still actively involved in the cover up and in trying to turn the table on the victims…while no one ever told me this, I really think that Delfino Madden has a vendetta against you, and the more you go after them, the harder that they are going to fight to screw you. And they are making a lot of money in the process.”
A quick note here: there are two possibilities that I think we can all agree are the most likely. Either this email is fake — someone setting me up to try and bait me, sabotage me, etc — or it’s the truth. And the fact that those are the possibilities speaks volumes about the ruinous, shameful state of our Party. We have to ask ourselves: what is worse, that we believe it’s possible that this email is a setup, or that we believe that it’s possible that this email is telling the truth? The former would indicate an unbelievably coordinated corrupt mission to silence survivors, and more specifically, to punish me. The latter would also prove that exact same thing.
Real or fake, both possibilities are absolutely unacceptable and demonstrate an unfathomable amount of corruption and disregard for basic decency towards survivors. It doesn’t matter if you believe that email. The fact that either of these options are within the realm of possibility demonstrates a complete, total, systematic meltdown of what is supposed to be a Party built on transparency, compassion, and justice.
And do I personally believe the person who wrote the email? Yes. Absolutely. Whoever they are, I want to applaud them for their bravery, because I know the exact kind of fear that they must be feeling right now. When I asked them if they would be willing to talk to a reporter anonymously to verify their story,* they said yes. That is an astounding kind of selflessness, and that immediate willingness to independently verify their story makes me comfortable believing them.
Many people have pointed out in recent weeks that the problem is much, much bigger than Bauman. It preceded him and is still going on today. His behavior was disgusting, appalling, and he deserves every ounce of the accountability that people will continue to demand from him. But he was protected — like every other predator in this Party — by a system of people who were covering for him, apologizing for him, and making sure that victims and survivors never had a fair chance at coming forward or creating change. I think that this email speaks to the mindblowing extent of how deep the underlying issue goes.
(As an aside, it’s also not hard for me to believe that Bauman’s legal team would see the utter disaster that the firm’s history could bring and try to get the Party to drop them — that’s just self preservation)
In short: no matter whether or not this email is true, its very existence demonstrates that trust in the Party’s governance is completely shattered.
I wrote this because this email showed that the pledge is not enough. It doesn’t matter if Party policy will be changed in two months. Two months is more time for harm to be done to survivors who are engaging legally with the Party right now, more time for survivors to be dissuaded from coming forward, and more time for this to destroy public trust in what is supposedly the most progressive party in the nation. Kicking this down the road further comes at too great a cost, and even if you aren’t persuaded by the human cost, delaying this just brings it to a head closer to 2020. We need to get started on action now.
There is no excuse for this. And as I work to get this email verified while protecting the person who wrote it, I encourage every single person to start thinking of a plan, and for people who have remained on the sidelines to join us now. This is an SOS to Democrats, to Republicans, to Californians everywhere. We need electeds. We need former staffers. We need everybody who gives a damn to help us get started on fixing this right now.
Or I fear we’ll all live to regret it.
*I’m in the process of reaching out to people to get this verified.
**While the person is using throwaway/proxy/anonymous email and phone accounts, I’ve decided to block out their information in this public post to prevent the possibility of doxxing. I can absolutely otherwise understand their fear of being tracked down and retaliated against.