As it has on a national scale, the question of whether there should be an independent investigation into Tara Reade’s sexual assault claim against Joe Biden has deepened divisions within the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.
Last week, a group of local Dems including Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, state Assembly candidate Alex Lee and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority trustee Shay Franco-Clausen submitted a “Resolution to Believe All Women” to the local Democratic Central Committee.
The emergency resolution—sent to Party Chair Bill James less than an hour before the committee’s May 7 meeting—called for an impartial inquiry into the allegations and for Biden to pull out of the race if Reade’s testimony is deemed credible.
“Survivors and allies are tired of seeing powerful individuals, especially men, commit abuse freely without consequences,” read the statement authored by California Young Democrats Deputy Regional Director Jessica Matthew and fellow Dems Jennie Hutchinson and Johannes Muenzel.
For Matthew, the issue is personal. And for many Americans, the allegations took on new urgency after Reade spoke at length about them with ex-Fox host Megyn Kelly.
“As a survivor of sexual assault and harassment, I know how hard it is to come forward and share your story,” Matthew told Fly. “We are instantly judged, instantly silenced. Our pasts are looked at and scrutinized for reasons why we deserved it or asked for it. We need to believe women and take accusations of sexual assault seriously, no matter how much we respect and like the accused. Our local party platform states that we do not tolerate sexual harassment or assault and believe that all allegations should be investigated. That is exactly what we are asking.”
But in an email obtained exclusively by Fly, James asked the committee’s members to vote no on taking up the proposal at the meeting because he didn’t want to rush it.
“Regrettably, none of the proponents contacted me in advance of this email being sent to inform me of their intention to submit the resolution at this late hour as an ‘emergency resolution,” James wrote. “Your ‘no’ vote will result in the matter being considered at our upcoming Executive Board meeting, allowing all members time to review the text, research the allegations and participate in a more considered process to decide how the Central Committee should express its position on the subject matter of the resolution.”
The Enough is Enough Voter Project led by Dauber began petitioning for an independent investigation into Reade’s claims on April 29 and, to this day, remains the only national women’s advocacy organization to do so. But the political action committee has since been joined by the New York Times editorial board and two Democratic U.S. senators.
“It’s incredibly disappointing that so many Democratic women leaders are defending Biden on the basis of his ‘good character’ and proclaiming that they do not believe Ms. Reade even though there has not yet been any real investigation,” Dauber said. “This sends the message to survivors that whether or not women leaders support you depends on who your assailant is and who his friends are. That is going to chill victims from coming forward. That is unacceptable.”
We need an independent, impartial investigation commissioned by the @DNC and conducted by a neutral, trustworthy entity in a trauma informed manner that takes these allegations seriously. Join our call here: https://t.co/HAotD9D8Yo
— EnoughIsEnough Voter Project (@EnoughVoter) April 29, 2020
While 19 individuals signed on to the resolution, Silicon Valley party insiders say there are a number of members against the idea of scrutinizing Biden just months away from his run against another accused predator: Donald Trump.