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Rantz: Turmoil over sexual harassment charges with King County Dems

Dan Nolte, center, staff member for the Darcy Burner campaign for Congress, dressed up as the Gas Pump Man, goes over script lines with volunteers Bailey Stober, right, and Mary Paynter, as Jaime Smith, far left, Communications Director for the Burner Campaign, stands by with her video camera Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at a Shell station in Auburn, Washington. (AP Photo/Karie Hamilton)

Anger is brewing within the membership of the King County Democrats as the three vice chairs have called for chair Bailey Stober to resign over alleged sexual harassment and hostile work environment. Stober has rejected the calls and some in leadership roles are calling out the vice chairs for their rush to judgment and sloppy investigation.

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An unnamed, former staffer with King County Democrats claimed Stober would repeatedly ask her for drinks, then insult her when she said no, according to Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times, citing a leaked internal memo written by vice chairs Michael Maddux, Orchideh Raisdanai and Cat Williams.

The staffer was later fired and seemed to imply in an interview with the Times that it might have been retaliation for not getting drinks with Bailey Stober.

“The investigation was not retaliatory and the complaints were made before he fired me,” said the woman to the Times. “I don’t want it to appear I am retaliating against him, because if anything it’s the opposite.” (It should be noted that she was fired after surveillance video showed her pouring liquid out of a cup onto a car with a bumper sticker she didn’t like; what a mature response.)

After the investigation, the three vice chairs called on Stober to resign. Let the infighting begin.

Bailey Stober denies wrongdoing. And at least two leaders in the party have openly expressed distaste with how the investigation unfolded.

Patrick Allcorn, a committee chair with the King County Democrats, tells me it was unfortunate the memo was “leaked” but “I guess public shamings are just more exciting than fair and thorough investigations.”

Indeed, Allcorn alleges the vice chairs called for Stober’s resignation “even though their own investigation wasn’t complete.”

“If the Vice Chairs think he should resign, they should have asked [Bailey Stober] privately,” Allcorn told me. “If he refused, they should have called for a special meeting to remove him as laid out in our Bylaw 5.9. There was no reason for this to become public [m]idway through their [i]nvestigation.”

Allcorn is not the only one complaining.

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According to The Seattle Times, David Ginsberg, chair of the 34th Legislative District Democrats, “ripped the actions of Maddux and the other party vice-chairs, saying they’d conducted ‘a bungled investigation’ and “seem to have gone a little rogue.’”

Bungled appears to be an understatement. The actions of these three vice chairs are unacceptable and how this is publicly unfolding should embarrass them.

Stober deserves due process, not three vice chairs who seem eager to sacrifice him in order to show some allegiance to the bigger movement of #MeToo. If Stober did something deserving of his ouster, then they should go through a fair process in accordance with their rules and they should do so without aiming to publicly pressure someone into resigning when he may not have done anything wrong.

Too often, we’re shoving aside fairness and actual due process to rush to an ideologically satisfying conclusion. If he’s guilty, there’s no reason to believe the system in place wouldn’t find him so when doled out fairly. But with the memo leaked to put the pressure on Stober, it ends up making the King County Democrats, and the vice chairs, in particular, look like children.

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