Florida Democratic Party leader resigns in wake of scandal

Lawrence Kim
November 17, 2017

After less than a year as the leader of Florida's Democratic Party, Stephen Bittel is stepping down amid accusations of misconduct by several women.

Not even a year after he took office, Stephen Bittel, the Florida Democratic Party chairman, is resigning following reports that he created a hostile working environment for women by "belittling" them in front of male staffers and making suggestive remarks.

Bittel, who kept a breast-shaped stress ball on his desk, was accused of inviting female staffers to his home, commenting on their appearances, and asking if they found him attractive.


But all four declared Democratic candidates for governor - Winter Park businessman Chris King, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine - called for Bittel to step down Friday.

Bittel didn't immediately return a message left on his cellphone. He did apologize in a statement to Politico prior to announcing his resignation and promised to do better.

Back in June, at a fundraising gala in Hollywood, featuring keynote speaker former Vice-President Joe Biden, Bittel recognized lots of folks at the event at the Weston Diplomat Hotel, but canceled a scheduled group introduction of the black legislative caucus.

"No one should have to work in an uncomfortable environment". "Bittel's behavior and the atmosphere he has created is unacceptable".

Stephen Bittel
Stephen Bittel

"He just leers at you, and stares".

The resignation is apparently open-ended, with no specific date set; Bittel presumably will occupy his office-at least nominally-until the party is able to elect his successor. "We must work to create an environment where women know they are not alone and feel comfortable to come forward". "I don't know how to describe the feeling", she said. "Every person, regardless of their gender, race, age or sexuality should be treated with respect and valued for their hard work and contributions to our community and if any of my comments or actions did not reflect that belief I am deeply sorry", he told POLITICO.

"I have much to learn, but my goal is and has always been to make sure every member of our party has a safe environment in which to succeed".

Bittel is a wealthy developer who has gained power and connections in the Florida Democratic Party. "It seems I've not been successful in that goal, and I will do better". I hope Chairman Bittel does the right thing and steps down as Chairman. Florida is also electing three new Cabinet members and Democratic U.S. Sen.

Bittel's demeaning behavior toward women, particularly young ones, surfaced alongside multiple claims of sexual assault in recent weeks against high-profile men in various industries.

Bittel apologized after the allegations were made public.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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