King County Democrats vote to investigate their leader for workplace harassment
The King County Democratic party has voted to investigate its chair for a second time. A complaint filed by democratic volunteers in January accused King County Democrats Chair Bailey Stober of harassment and mismanagement of funds.
He denies the allegations.
The complaint against Stober came around the same time he fired the party's executive director, Natalia Koss Vallejo. Multiple people reported that Stober verbally harassed and bullied her, including party volunteer Melissa Taylor.
Taylor: "And she repeatedly told him to knock it off, and I finally called in and I said Bailey stop harassing Natalia. And if that is part of your workplace all day every day, it just becomes harder and harder to do your work."
The complaint against Stober says he regularly used misogynistic language toward staff, spent money on unnecessary things, and chastised people for not drinking alcohol with him.
King County Democrats ran an investigation, led by the party’s vice chairs, and they ultimately called on Stober to resign. He refused, saying he had not received due process.
This week, party officers voted to have an outside panel run a second investigation. That process will start immediately.
Stober told KUOW this week the allegations aren't true, but he said he wants an outside panel to investigate.
Stober: "I know that I have evidence and documentation that corroborates my side of the story that I would like to present, and I think both parties should be afforded that opportunity."
Taylor, however, says the new investigative process is distracting from their work. She says the workplace harassment complaint should be handled by employment lawyers, not a board of volunteers.
Taylor: "It would be far simpler and cleaner for everybody involved if the chair were to resign."
The new investigative panel will have five members; two of them appointed directly by Stober, two appointed by the party’s vice chair(s), and one appointed by those four panelists. Their first report is expected within the next month.
Stober says he's proud of the work he's doing to help elect people of color and women. He says he has worked in politics for nearly a decade and never had accusations of the sort against him.