Block: Coup in the California Democratic Party?

I write this piece on Memorial Day, the day we honor our dead for their defense of democracy.

I am compelled to write about the continuous disregard for democratic principles and the rule of law in the ongoing election for California Democratic Party Chair.

The election of the California Democratic Party Chair is not a trivial matter. The California Democratic Party is the largest party in the largest state in a country which lectures the rest of the world about the values of democracy.

The Democratic Party holds all of California’s Seven State Offices, plus two thirds of both the Assembly and Senate.

The Party’s Chairperson, like most top executive officials in most organizations, public or private, exercises tremendous authority over the organization’s staff, its agenda, meetings, committee appointments, etc.

On Saturday, May 20, between 4 and 7pm, the California Democratic Party Convention held an open-ballot vote for Chair and other Statewide officers by credentialed delegates.

The initial count that night for Chair was very close, according to informal announcements by the Campaigns for Eric Bauman, the incumbent Vice Chair, and Kimberly Ellis, the outside challenger.

Bauman claimed he won by 62 votes out of 3,000 eligible delegates. Ellis disagreed and wouldn’t concede.

From that moment that Saturday night, Party officials, by action and inaction, have secretly and unlawfully proceeded on their own to resolve the Chair election dispute.

There is to be complete transparency in Party official business, including elections, according to the California Election Code, the Democratic National Committee Charter, the California Party’s Bylaws & Rules, its Rules Committee Policy Statement on open meetings, and the Convention Rules.

Yet, the following unlawful actions and inactions have taken place in the aftermath of the close election vote:

  • No official body of the Party or Convention ever announced Bauman’s alleged election victory- not the Rules Committee (which supposedly conducted the election), the Executive Committee (the governing body of the Party when the Convention is not in session), nor any other standing Committee of the Party.
  • No official report of the election vote totals was ever made to the Convention delegates for their consideration and approval.  This was not only true for the Chair election, but for all the Statewide officer elections.
  • Secret meetings were held by unidentified Party officials, Campaign representatives and unknown staff to negotiate and determine how to proceed to resolve the disputed close election. No notice to Convention delegates was given.
  • Allegations of election irregularities were kept secret and not reported to the Convention Delegates for their consideration and action concerning how to proceed to resolve the allegations.
  • A secret agreement by undisclosed parties, presumably the Campaigns and Party officials, was arranged to resolve the Chair election by way of an “Audit” or “Inspection of the Ballots” [The Campaigns differ on the the label for the process they agreed upon.]
  • The terms of the agreement, including the scope of the “Audit/Inspection of Ballots” and who was to conduct the “Audit/Inspection of Ballots,” was never reported to Convention delegates for consideration and ratification or rejection.
  • No vote to authorize secret meetings to resolve the Chair election was ever submitted to, or authorized by, the Convention delegates.  Even if secret meetings had been proposed, they would have been illegal.  Party rules specify only 5 authorized exceptions from the Party’s Open Meeting Mandate:  matters involving personnel, contract, litigation, campaign strategy and Member discipline.
  • On Sunday, May 21 near the end of the Convention, despite the fact no official action on the election had been taken by the Convention or any other official body of the Party, outgoing Chair John Burton announced to the delegates that Bauman was the new Chair.
  • Burton also told the Convention delegates that he spoke for Candidate Ellis and that she had agreed to a process to resolve the election dispute.  [As stated above, all aspects of the negotiation and terms of the “Audit/Inspection of the Ballots” were secret. Ellis never appeared at the Convention Sunday.]  Burton never put approval of the “Audit/Inspection of the Ballots” to the vote of the Convention delegates.
  • When numerous attempts were made by Delegates on the Floor to demand an official report of the votes, to demand a recount and to otherwise challenge the unlawful determination of Bauman as the winner, Chair Burton ruled them all out of order and refused to carry out a successful floor appeal of his ruling.
  • Also that Sunday, May 21, even before the “Audit/Inspection of Ballots” began, and with no official report of vote totals, plus no official approval of the election by the Convention, Baumann apparently hired consultant Steven Maviglio as his new Party spokesperson.
  • The next day, Monday, May 22 Bauman again acted as Party Chair to conduct a meeting of Party Officers and staff, despite no advance notice of the meeting and its agenda.

  • On Tuesday, May 23, again without notice of the meeting or the procedures to be followed, the “Audit/Inspection of Ballots” began.

  • No reports of the ballots counted, vote totals, or any other information has been disclosed as counting has continued.  The Party tweeted last Thursday, May 25, that counting would continue Tuesday, May 30.

A political coup does not necessarily involve violence.  It always involves a conspiracy to determine the leader without lawful process.  It happened at the Democratic Party Convention. It is still happening.

Joel Block is a retired attorney and freelance writer living in Rossmoor, CA.

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at

For a different view on this issue, consider: 

Maviglio: The Truth About The California Democratic Party’s Elections



  • Chip

    omg this dumb coup nonsense. BERNIE LOST GET OVER IT

  • nope

    Also, the convention proceedings on Sunday occurred without an agenda given to the delegates. This also violated Rules. This made it impossible for delegates to respond or object to the proceedings. Many motions and points were declared out of order by Chair Burton during this time. Previously, Ratification was to be one of the first orders of business on Sunday. Instead, presentations began to occur in reverse order of the traditional manner of proceedings; beginning with honoring passed Democrats which is typically a late or closing moment and continuing in this reverse fashion. I personally as credentialed Observer believed this to be a delay tactic which lasted well into the afternoon, designed to force many working class delegates back to their scheduled flights and drives back home across the state, weakening the challenging force within the Party and strengthening the wealthy and Sacramento-based forces within the Party in advance of any potential challenge to the ratification (which never ended up occurring anyway).

  • Mary Johnson

    There really know diversity in the group, that look like me. So, have the democratic party exclusive black voices in moving California forward. It seem that democratic party is no better than GOP in being exclusive to leaving behind black america in America.

    • verifiedsane

      The comment should read as corrected “There is really no diversity in the group that looks like my person; a black women. So, please have the Democratic Party include black voices in moving California forward. It appears the Democratic Party is no better than the GOP in excluding or leaving behind black American’s in our Nation.”

      Just a little friendly advice: If you wish to leave a persuasive opinion comment. Please make it readable. 🙂

      • justanon

        Verifiedinsane giving grammatical tips is akin to Melania Trump giving advice on how to marry for love.

        “…my person; a black women.”


        • verifiedsane

          When someone has no argument as with the documented racist, Misandrist, and hate derived comments of justanon; all that is left, are silly personal attacks….their comments are disregarded/ignored for the trite ignorance they embody….go back to talking to your only friend; a dead pet floating goldfish, diaper boy… 🙂

          • justanon

            Your grammar and punctuation are atrocious, yet you got on your high-horse to school Mary on her writing skills.

            That’s the height of hypocritical hutzpah, chump, but keep on trying to deflect from your obvious inadequacies by writing gibberish about me.

            Not. Fooling. Anybody. LOL!

          • verifiedsane

            Thank you Kathy Griffin….keep holding that head high for everyone to see 🙂

          • justanon

            Ah, the new right-wing lemming boogeyman, Kathy Griffin, how relevant, how biting, how incredibly …. lame, lol.

            Tell me, have you EVER had an original thought?

          • verifiedsane

            How lonely and pathetic you must be justanon…won’t your only friend the floating pet Goldfish come out to play…. 🙂

          • justanon

            Projection is a poor ‘come-back’, you’d be pitiful if you weren’t so completely loathsome.

    • LFOldTimer

      I sympathize with the black cause, Mary. Over 90% of blacks voted to elect Barack Obama, a black (at least half-black) man, hoping that he would lead the charge to improve the quality of life for the average black man, woman and child. After 8 years of an Obama presidency more blacks live in poverty, there are more blacks in prison than when he was first inaugurated and in 2016 about 800 black men and women were murdered (mainly black on black crime) in the City of Chicago.

      I realize that this must be terribly demoralizing for the black population. I don’t know what to say. My best advice would be to forget about Washington DC, the congressional black congress and Sacramento to save you. They don’t care. Save yourselves. Organize individual leaders within the black communities to fix the problems. Leaders who you can trust. Real leaders. Not fake leaders. That would be a good start.

      Good luck and God’s speed.

    • justanon

      Mary, don’t be fooled by LFOldTimer’s seemingly sympathetic words because they’re just cover for his anti-Democrat agenda.

      LFOldTimer is a racist who supported trump. Trump made his mark by questioning Obama’s citizenship and his educational credentials. This was a blatantly racist ploy by trump that worked, in so far as it excited all the racists in this country and gained him a racist base to run for POTUS on.

      Also, LFOldTimer just recently referred to Michelle Obama as “Moochelle” and he did this in spite of the fact the current occupants of the White House are on track to cost the taxpayers as much in one year as the Obama’s cost in eight and that our current useless First Lady costs over $200,000 dollars a day because she refuses to move to the White House. In light of these facts, why would he STILL call Michelle Obama “Moochelle”? Let’s see, could it be because she’s ….black?

      Of course it is, just like the questioning Barak Obama’s birth certificate and his educational credentials was based solely on race.

      Even the Republican fixation on ‘what has Obama done for blacks’ meme is racist. The Obama’s were d*mned if they did and d*mned if they didn’t when it came to race. They couldn’t appear too ‘black’ and have an agenda that focused too much on blacks or else they would’ve been called ‘reverse racists’ (look no further than the right-wing hysteria over Obama’s Trayvon Martin statement).

      LFOldTimer brings up “black on black crime” an ever popular right-wing racist meme that’s supposed to be ominous, but the fact of the matter is that white on white crime percentages are nearly as high and in reality blacks are 2.75 percent more likely to be murdered by whites as whites are to be murdered by blacks.

      In short, don’t believe racist-wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing, the Democratic party may not be perfect but it is far more inclusive and progressive on minority issues than the Republicans will ever be.

      • LFOldTimer

        Claptrap on ignore.

        Nothing follows……….

        • justanon

          Hmmm, my comments weren’t addressed to you. Why are you responding?

          • LFOldTimer

            Claptrap on ignore.

            Nothing follows…………

  • sylvie333

    If the media had been reporting on the law suit against the DNC, you would have heard that they said in court that they have no responsibility to follow their own charter or rules, that they could, if they wanted, go in the back room with cigars and decide who the candidate was to be. The stunt they pulled in Nevada in 2016 was only the beginning. The Democratic party is no more, it is Republican light and not at all democratic in its operation. The news wont cover this, amazingly, right? It IS a coup. Time to Dem Exit and push for open primaries where Independents can vote!

    • LFOldTimer

      What ever gave you the impression that the Democrat Party was ever democratic in it’s operations? Did you see what they did to Bernie Sanders in the Presidential primary? ha.

      Bernie was merely window dressing during the entire facade. He was used as a fundraising mechanism. And Bernie’s supporters were used as unwitting walking ATM machines. Hillary’s nomination was cut ‘n dried way back in 2015. That was made obvious in the Wikileaks documents. And any Democrat with a morsel of integrity would acknowledge it.

      You see, even though all the establishment swamp dwellers in the Republican Party opposed Donald Trump and tried very hard to eliminate him in the primary election phase – they failed and Mr. Trump went on to win the Presidency.

      So referring to the Democrat Party as “Republican light” is laughable. The Democrats have evolved into one of the most corrupted political organizations in the history of the country. They lead the pack.

      • Kathleen Cicelski

        Bernie would have won! 😉

        • LFOldTimer

          Bernie would have won the Democrat primary without a doubt. The DNC stole it from him.

          But Trump would’ve defeated Bernie in the general election. Bernie was too far to the left. His far-left progressive platform would’ve sunk him.

          This is America. Not western Europe.

          • privatechaos

            Bullshit pure and simple. If Bernie could win Washington State’s primary, WHICH HE DID, he could win the country because he is a man of the people and if they hadn’t been forced to choose between a turd sandwich and Il Douche, they would have voted for the real populist over the fake. But the media is controlled by moneyed interests so you wouldn’t know.

          • LFOldTimer

            Washington State is one of the most liberal states in the nation. Of course a liberal won. It just happened to be Bernie and not Hillary. But you’re not thinking straight if you think Washington State’s majority ideology is representative of the US as a whole. Trump would’ve skunked Bernie – just like he did Hillary. The Democrats put up some loser candidates. That’s not Trump’s fault. The Democrats are to blame.

            Making college tuition-free and forgiving all student debt while making the taxpayers pick up the tab is radical and pure nuts, whether you care to admit it or not.

            Putting on Americans on Medicare was a really goofy idea. Medicare is practically bankrupted now. Piling all Americans on the program would sink the ship.

            Prosecuting “climate deniers” was probably the funniest of all. If you think we have a police state today it would’ve gone viral under jack-booted Bernie.

            I agreed with some of is stuff on Wall Street – but I’m skeptical whether he would’ve followed through.

            Overall, Bernie was way too far left to have a chance to move into the White House.

            Bernie’s irresponsible fiscal policies would have bankrupted the nation (if he adhered to his platform) before the end of his 1st term in office.

            Now the dems are smartening up and are seeking a military veteran to carry the dem banner in the 2020 presidential election. Finally we see a spark of common sense coming from the DNC.

          • verifiedsane

            As novel and well timed as Benedict Bernie’s run was (do to the great social divide happening in America)….America was not going to elect an extreme socialist who honeymooned in the USSR and never came back…There is little doubt the Democrats robbed Bernie of their nomination. This is not because Bernie was actually an electable or a truly viable candidate…It was because of the Democratic Party was experiencing a tectonic shift toward a more extreme socialist agenda, and that the American electorate of both parties had grown weary of the status quo establishment and the failures of both parties to represent their best interest. President Trump was not elected so much as a Republican; but more as a anti-establishment populous.

            The one positive for the Democratic Party that has come from this past election (that the party would be wise to heed), is that the Clinton Machine no longer has carte blanche to run total roughshod over the party.

          • justanon

            ” that the Clinton Machine no longer has carte blanche to run total roughshod over the party.”

            What utter nonsense, if there was a “Clinton Machine” running “roughshod over the party” Hillary would have been the nominee in 2008.

          • verifiedsane

            More ignorant and ignored nonsense from VofOC’s resident anarchist, Kathy Griffin

    • Trakar

      This article is about the California Democratic Party, not the DNC (which is Democratic National Committee).

      • privatechaos

        The difference, please? Do you propose to knock off the leaders somehow?

        • Trakar

          Obviously there are too many neoliberal corporatist establishment similarities to be ignored, but state parties are largely independent from the national party (at least in the Democratic Party). This means that even though the corruption prevalent in the national party is present, it isn’t as entrenched as it is in the national party, particularly in the large, majority progressive states like California, Washington, Oregon as well as many of the Northeastern states.
          As to knocking off the leaders, if you are referring to electorally replacing party leaders, administration, and representatives, yes, that is the plan. Every Democratic seat and candidate over the next decade or so, should expect to face primary challenges and even general election challenges where necessary by progressive alternatives.

  • LFOldTimer

    Turmoil within the Democrat Party.

    Maybe if they concentrate on eating their own they’ll cut back on the fake news directed at Trump and turn their anger for losing the 2016 election on themselves where it rightfully belongs.

    • justanon

      That’s really rich coming from the lemming who followed the Fox ‘News’ story about Seth Rich right off the cliff.
      You wouldn’t recognize a “fake news” story if it bit you in the a**.

      • LFOldTimer

        Claptrap on ignore.

        Nothing follows………..

        • justanon

          Except that your ‘non-response’ is clearly a response … old hypocritical fool.

      • verifiedsane

        Diaper Boy, (the Kathy Griffin of VofOC comment section) comments, and everyone with a pinch of integrity & common sense ignores them… 🙂

        • justanon

          And the other lemming weighs in. Hey, I hear their’s another ‘murder’ for you lemmings to follow. Better scurry over to Breitbart so they can point you to the right cliff, lol.