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Our Next Steps re: Sexual Misconduct & Harassment in the California Democratic Party

The events of recent months have reminded us that every single person should both feel and be safe when engaging with the California Democratic Party (CDP). That has not always been the case, but it must be if we are to both live out our democratic values and move California forward.

Our next Chair must be prepared to reform the CDP to:

  • Establish a culture change that makes it clear that misconduct, harassment, and bullying will not be tolerated; and
  • Implement a system change that acknowledges the pain and suffering experienced by the victims of misconduct and harassment and ensures that it never happens again.

We cannot wait. We must act now. So, I’m starting today.

I am forming a Task Force of progressive leaders, civil rights leaders, labor leaders, grassroots advocates, and survivors to assess the CDP’s current policy and develop the best practices policy our Party needs. The Task Force will provide their recommendations within 60 days – by June 1, 2019. Their recommended best practices policy can be implemented promptly by the incoming Chair and any necessary bylaws changes can be proposed at the August 2019 Executive Board Meeting for consideration and action.

The Task Force will be led by Controller Betty Yee, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, LGBTQ Leader Rick Zbur, and Civil Rights Leader Connie Rice. The Task Force will be assisted by legal counsel with no prior legal ties to the CDP who will solicit feedback from Delegates and subject matter experts to conduct the necessary research, draft a new best practices policy and assist with any policy and/or bylaws implementation.

The specific areas and principles under which the Task Forces will provide specific policy changes include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • CDP Policy – The CDP’s current policy must be thoroughly reviewed and all problematic areas identified. The updated CDP’s rules – in both the personnel policy and the organization’s bylaws – must be unambiguous, easy to understand and widely shared. Every individual who interacts with the CDP must acknowledge that they have both read and understand the policy. Further, a summary of the CDP’s Code of Conduct must be read at the start of all CDP meetings and gatherings.
  • Complaint Designee– There must be a trained, known, and readily-available designee to whom the targets of misconduct can register complaints of any/all violations. The designee should receive specialized training before handling any complaint. The name and contact information of the on-site designee should be provided at the commencement of every CDP meeting or gathering.
  • Investigations by a Third-Party– All complaints must be investigated by a qualified and impartial third-party that specializes in the investigation of sexual misconduct and harassment. A written report will be prepared. All investigations will be victim-centered and trauma-informed. All investigations will be completed promptly, fairly, and thoroughly. To the extent possible, the wishes of the complainant for confidentiality and agency over the process will be respected. The goals of the investigation are to: (1) restore and build trust within our communities; (2) encourage victims to come forward; and (3) support them when they do so.
  • Prompt and Fair Remedial Action– Upon the completion of the investigation by the third-party, the report will be provided to the Chair, the Executive Director, and the CDP’s legal counsel. If the complaint is against any of these individuals, the report will be provided to the Vice Chairs. The Chair – or Vice Chairs, if the Chair is the alleged perpetrator – will then take prompt and fair remedial action – to include sanction, suspension, or removal of any individual including a CDP Officer – to prevent and correct the misconduct. In addition, the CDP will provide the necessary supportive services and appropriate remedial workplace measures to address the needs of victims.

I am committed to addressing this issue. If we are to stand up for every Californian, we have to start by facing the hard issues within our own house. That’s my commitment to you.

Should you have further questions on this matter, please connect with me directly at: 213-399-8872 or [email protected]

Thank you,

Rusty Hicks