Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman, a front-runner in the race to lead the state party, has sent an email to California Democrats saying he's been targeted by false rumors of "engaging in inappropriate behavior with 14- and 16-year-old boys," it was reported Monday.
Bauman said he decided to send the email Sunday after members of his campaign team, while calling California Democratic Party delegates to ask for their support, reported that at least four people said they had heard the rumor, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"I am outraged about the latest tactic in the politics of personal destruction that have infected this race for CDP Chair,'' Bauman, who also serves as a vice chair in the state party, wrote in the email. According to The Times, the subject line read, "I can no longer stay silent."
"I'm a pretty tough guy and I can take the attacks, lies, distortions, and mud that has been slung at me pretty well,'' Bauman's email said. "But to accuse me of child abuse, especially of this nature, is beyond the pale and 100% unacceptable."
When reached by telephone Sunday, Bauman told The Times that he was not accusing any of his opponents of orchestrating or spreading the reports. He said he did not know the origin of the rumors.
In the email to state Democrats, he wrote, "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."
Bauman told The Times that by addressing the rumor and "putting it out there, I sort of in a way spread the thing."
"I was thinking that the only way to shut it down was to shut it down. So that was the point of the email," he said.
His top rival, Kimberly Ellis, denounced the rumors.
"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," Ellis said in her own email to state Democrats, sent two hours after Bauman's message, The Times reported.