The chairman of the Florida Democratic party resigned on Friday after six women came forward to accuse him of creating a hostile work environment by making sexually-charged comments.
“When my personal situation becomes distracting to our core mission of electing Democrats and making Florida better, it is time for me to step aside,” said Stephen Bittel, a Miami Beach businessman with close ties to Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“I have to apologize for all who have felt uncomfortable during my tenure at the Democratic party,” Bittel continued, adding that he will work to elect a successor.
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) November 17, 2017
Bittel faced pressure from four top Florida state Democrats to leave office after the publication of a Politico article in which six current and former staffers accused him of making demeaning and sexually-suggestive remarks about women and creating a hostile work environment.
“There was a lot of boob stuff in his office,” one woman who interacted with Bittel told Politico. “I was told by other women not to go into his bathroom. I was warned.”
“He’s just so f—-ng creepy,” a former party staffer told Politico. “He just leers at you, and stares. I don’t know if you know what that feels like, but he just leers at you. I don’t know how to describe the feeling.”
Another former staffer said that it “became a policy” that female staffers avoided being alone with Bittel in his office, airplane or house.
“He’s very demeaning. He’s inappropriate in his comments he makes to women,” the former staffer said.
Bittel was a controversial figure in Democratic politics even before Politico’s revelations.
Emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee and released by Wikileaks last year showed that he was viewed with contempt by party staffers.
Bittel, as a national co-chairman of the DNC’s finance committee, hosted a May 18, 2016 fundraiser attended by President Obama.
Two days before the event, two party officials vented over Bittel through email.
“Bittel said this morning he was coming so just plan on it, but he doesn’t sit next to POTUS!” Jordan Kaplan, the DNC’s national finance director, told one of his deputies, Alexandra Shapiro.
“Yes — Bittel will be sitting in the shittiest corner I can find,” Shapiro wrote back.