Following a 13-hour trial-like procedure held Sunday by local Democratic Party activists, Bailey Stober resigned as chair of the King County Democrats. Stober faced allegations that he harassed and bullied a former employee and mismanaged party funds. Stober initially denied the allegations. Then, late last month, Stober temporarily stepped down from his role and said, "Many of the allegations against me are untrue. However some of them are true."
After Sunday's party trial, Stober told the group, "It is clear that my time has expired as one of your party leaders." His resignation will be effective Saturday at 11:59 pm.
The allegations against Stober centered around his treatment of a former King County Democrats employee, Natalia Koss Vallejo. Koss Vallejo and several other people said Stober harassed and bullied Koss Vallejo and party volunteers, including allegations that he pressured people to drink and made comments about women's appearances. An internal investigation by three party vice chairs released internally in early February made several allegations, including that Stober called Koss Vallejo a "stupid cunt" and "stupid bitch." Party members, including the organization's treasurer, also accused Stober of spending too much party money on travel and entertaining. In interviews, Stober denied bullying Koss Vallejo, mismanaging funds, and commenting on women's appearances. He later apologized to Koss Vallejo, but did not specify which allegations against him were true.
In March, a majority of the King County Democrats' executive board voted in favor of a motion calling on Stober to step down. The organization then planned Sunday's "trial." During the process, each side was able to make argument and present evidence. That process happened behind closed doors during executive session Sunday. Independent journalist Erica C. Barnett reports the group found Stober guilty on five charges. Stober's resignation was live-streamed.
"We still have so much work to do as a party, as a community," Stober said. "If I have to be the first one to go through this process to open our eyes to the flaws we have and structural issues we need to work through as a community, as a party, so be it. I would like to, with that said, apologize to everybody that I've hurt through my words, through my actions, and my irresponsibility."
The King County Democrats will meet later this month to select a new chair.
UPDATE: In an interview Monday, Koss Vallejo said, “If it takes dozens and dozens of people—hundreds of people who signed the petition—10 weeks and enduring a 14-hour fake court process, that is not justice.”
Koss Vallejo called the process “mentally and emotionally exhausting” and said “it did not treat me as human.” The organization’s multiple investigations, convoluted Robert’s Rules of Order processes, and the length of time before Stober resigned have distracted and discouraged donors and volunteers, Koss Vallejo said. “We could have been electing Democrats in this time and instead we were dealing with Bailey Stober’s antics.”
“The organization is just embarrassingly unequipped to deal with this kind of issue,” Koss Vallejo said. “They should not be allowed to hire a staff person without proper HR best practices and legal best practices to accommodate a staff person who’s going through this kind of trauma.”
Bevin McLeod, a member of the 36th District Democrats who filed the original complaint about Stober’s treatment of Koss Vallejo, confirmed Stober was found “guilty” on all five charges against him. Those included creation of a hostile work environment, conduct unbecoming of an officer, spending beyond budgeted amounts without proper approval, contributions to candidates without proper approval, and firing Koss Vallejo without “concurrence” from the group’s treasurer and finance committee.
McLeod said the process since she filed her complaint has been “very challenging.”
“It has presented some significant holes in our procedures and policies that obviously need to be rectified immediately,” McLeod said. Still, McLeod called the outcome “a significant step forward for women and young people in our party. It’s yet another step in the Me Too movement, yet another step in saying that time’s up.”