Shahid Buttar has denied accusations of sexual harassment from a former colleague and misogyny from former staffers.

The campaign of Shahid Buttar, the attorney hoping to unseat Rep. Nancy Pelosi from the left, is mired in a chaotic stretch, beset by allegations of sexual harassment from an acquaintance and of misogyny by numerous former campaign staffers. 

On Tuesday, East Coast comedian Elizabeth Croydon publicly accused Buttar of ongoing and persistent sexual harassment starting in the early 2000s; she said Buttar incessantly pressed her for sex against her wishes and, on at least one occasion, made unwelcome physical contact with her. 

Croydon also alleges that in the early 2010s, Buttar mocked and belittled her regarding her decision to remain celibate — despite being told, repeatedly, this was a method of coping with past sexual assaults. 

“I’m not coming out because he’s making a name for himself. I’m coming out because he’s seeking a high seat of power,” Croydon told Mission Local. “And he needs to be completely trustworthy. And predators aren’t trustworthy. I wish I had come out earlier.” 

Also this week, the Democratic Socialists of America’s San Francisco chapter began the process of potentially rescinding its endorsement of Buttar. The resolution cites Croydon’s allegations — but doesn’t end there. One of its five clauses reads:  

WHEREAS Shahid Buttar mismanaged his campaign by treating his campaign team, specifically the women, in a belittling, demeaning, hyper controlling and abusive manner. The Shahid Buttar campaign has had massive turnover for months because of Shahid’s behavior with many key staff positions still not filled.

The resolution was signed by more than 40 DSA members, including state senate candidate Jackie Fielder and Supervisor Dean Preston. 

In both a Twitter chain and in an interview with Mission Local, Buttar denied Croydon’s allegations categorically.

“I feel very strongly that survivors need to be heard. I’m grateful that all the facts may come out,” he said. “She describes a communal and group house I had in D.C. in 2005 to 2008. We were both performers in a group called D.C. Guerilla Poetry Insurgency. This was a place we frequently held events. That much is true. The rest is not.” 

The candidate also denied fostering a misogynistic, toxic workplace atmosphere. Rather, he cited “performance challenges” from “a number of staff: Some women, some men.” 

But this did not ring true to a goodly number of former Buttar staffers. None made claims akin to Croydon’s, but did object to Buttar’s allegedly dismissive and belittling attitude toward female employees. Departed staffers also accused Buttar of failing to put in the hard work necessary in an uphill campaign while paying himself $8,335 a month from campaign funds — more than $52,000 since January. 

Buttar defended drawing a salary from campaign funds — which is legal. “Not everyone can be an oligarch like Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “I made more money in my first year out of law school.” 

This did not resonate with former staffers. 

I strongly believed, and still believe, in his policy positions. But I do not have faith in Shahid as a leader,” said former field organizer Raya Steier. “He needs to work on his attitudes with women. Trying to imply these people had performance issues? That’s not the case at all: He had performance issues.”  

Former staffers said Buttar’s campaign staff has already completely turned over twice, with more than half a dozen employees or contractors quitting at around the same time in April or May. 

“As a male staffer, Shahid never did anything terrible to me. But women staffers? A completely different picture,” said Patrick Cochran, Buttar’s former volunteer coordinator.

Cochran recalls his female colleagues needing to gather “three or four men” to have their ideas taken seriously by the candidate. 

William Fitzgerald, who handled PR for Buttar, shared similar memories: “It felt to me, as a white guy, he listened to me a lot more than the women members of his team,” said Fitzgerald, a principal at The Worker Agency. 

“It was obvious and he would often speak down to and be extremely rude to women. And in front of lots of people. And it was not a one-off and not to just one woman.” 

Fitzgerald says he broke ties with the campaign in April. “We wanted to see him through the primary.” 

Buttar took 13 percent of the vote in that March primary, coming a distant second to the incumbent Pelosi’s 74 percent — but earning a rematch in November’s general election. 

Multiple former campaign staffers declined interviews, including former campaign manager Jasper Wilde and finance director Emily Jones, citing non-disparagement clauses in their contracts. Buttar denied the existence of the NDAs.

Croydon, a longtime comic and actress, said she’s spent decades backstage with some of the nation’s raunchiest and most belligerent comedians. None of them, she says, felt the need to probe and belittle her sexual history as she alleges Buttar did. 

“It was humiliating and degrading and made me re-live other incidents,” she says. “I am speaking out because I don’t believe he is trustworthy enough to hold elected office. The Left can do better.” 

Buttar categorically denied all the allegations made in recent days, but was especially adamant that he never mocked Croydon for choosing to remain celibate following sexual assaults.

“That is the last thing I of all people would ever do,” he said. “The most painful thing about reading this story is it is so wildly inconsistent with who I am.”

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Joe Eskenazi

Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. “Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior...

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76 Comments

    1. July 23, 2020

      Open Letter of Support for Shahid Buttar

      We, the undersigned, wish to express our complete support for Shahid Buttar regarding all aspects of his character, integrity and leadership. We specifically wish to vouch for his high ethical standards and behavior.

      Collectively, our experiences with Shahid range from the personal to the political, in settings including our homes, workplaces, and the streets. In each of these places, we have witnessed and interacted with a man who embodies the values he espouses, deeply respects women and listens carefully to all those around him. Shahid’s empathetic approach to connecting with others and his inherent kindness define who he is and how he comports himself in all parts of his life. We also know him as a committed feminist who fights for women’s rights and against patriarchy.

      Recent allegations have attempted to draw a different picture of Shahid than the one we know to be true. We believe these allegations are false and ill intentioned.

      The accuser is well known in the DC social justice community. Unfortunately, this troubled individual has a long history of fabricating attacks against innocent people. A review of litigation she has filed in various jurisdictions would likely yield a revealing picture to an enterprising journalist. She has engaged in late night phone harassment campaigns, false allegations and physical threats against numerous individuals over the years. She is NOT a credible witness against this promising progressive leader.

      We are discouraged by the speed Shahid was condemned without evidence and urge further investigation into these claims which come from an individual with a widely known pattern of making false accusations.

      Shahid stands for peace, justice, and democracy. He embodies anti-oppression principles and has a demonstrated record of practices that promote equity and inclusion. His disposition, intellect, and values combine to make up the type of person we should all hope to represent us as an elected official.

      Signed,

      Polly Miller
      Martine Zundmanis
      Kevin Zeese
      Margaret Flowers
      Anna Ricklin
      Chris Menocal
      Medea Benjamin
      Tighe Barry
      Pat Elder
      Fawn Damitio
      Linda Schade
      Stephanie Lenorovitz
      Malachy Kilbride
      Pete Perry
      Ellen Thomas

      1. “The accuser” – uh…OK? And what of ALL the former campaign workers who went on-the-record about Shahid’s misogyny?
        Oh, you’re not going to address that because it makes your singular attack upon “the accuser” seem rather hollow? Ok!

        Enjoy Speaker Pelosi’s next term and Shahid’s move to the cluttered dustbin of former-politico wannabes.

        Cheers!

        1. I just read the article in medium. This isn’t right. They are sitting in a circle talking about sex openly and he’s harassing her because she doesn’t like his remarks? Come on. This kid of stuff sets us back. He blocks her way at a party? That’s not harassment. I’m sorry. It just isn’t.

          1. Typically, you avoided the point.

            Did you read the article? What about the other women?

            They’re lying, too? They are paid by Pelosi?

            My gawd, how gullible can you get and still survive?

      2. So you don’t “believe all women”? What about his staffers that complained of his misogyny? That he never listens to the women.

        The women say he doesn’t work.

        This guy is such a blatant liar, a GOP tool, posting nothing but rightwing-fed attacks on Nancy Pelosi.

        it is painful to see young people having such a poor judge of character and falling for his shtick.

        With all we have to worry about now, this wastrel and all the “Justice Democrats” can do nothing but attack powerful Democrats.

        Doesn’t this give you a clue, people? How dumb do you have to be?

        Another question: Why are so many men of Pakistani heritage on this quest to destroy Democrats?

        1. So you are a corporate democrat bootlicker… how dumb do you have to be to think Nanci Pelosi has better policies than Buttar and the justice democrats?

    2. Unfortunately, Ms. Croydon has a history of falsely accusing men of this exact thing. She uses litigation, intimidation, and claims of sexual harassment to gain attention or attempt to further her career. Her campaigns of intimidation have caused people pain.
      I do not say any of this lightly. I was raped in my late 20s and felt I wouldn’t be believed. Mr. Buttar is not the first person Ms. Croydon has accused. I was present for an incident 10 years ago where she accused someone of sexual harassment.
      This incident where she accused another man didn’t happen and there were 5 people in the room at the time. Ms. Croydon was attending a peace poetry jam at the home of a friend. I asked her to stop focusing her anger at me regarding her ill-fated relationship with my husband. Ms. Croydon got up out of her chair and lunged at me. The host put himself between the two of us and urged her to sit down. The next day she told a party full of people that he had sexually assaulted her. This did not happen.
      I am acquainted with Mr. Buttar. We worked together planning a response to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. I have no opinion about his candidacy, but I cannot stay silent while Ms. Croydon repeatedly falsely accuses men of sexual harassment. The credibility of victims cannot and should not be damaged by opportunists like Ms. Croydon.
      I feel sorry for Ms. Croydon, as well. She is clearly troubled. There are videos of her rantings, legal paperwork prepared in frivolous lawsuits and a group from Washington, DC is preparing to support Mr. Buttar.
      I can’t be silent in this case. Please do not pass judgment on this accusation until all the information has come to light.
      Thank you.

      1. Where you there when the alleged exchange took place, or you’re relying on hearsay?

        Anyways, there’s multiple facets here. A lone accusation may or may not have been published, but that’s irrelevant when there are multiple allegations.

      2. Gee, I guess you haven’t seen the anti-Democrat and anti-Pelosi propaganda he posts almost every day on Facebook.

        You don’t care much about facts in that case?

  1. Could be absolutely true. Pelosi’s insane power & wealth could buy a lot of lies, too.
    Not sure I would support a Warmonger over a potential bigot?

    1. Moreover, Nancy Pelosi has publicly dismissed AOC and others in the progressive movement. We have a public record of her antagonizing AOC and other POC members of the Squad as well as downplaying theIr work in the progressive movement and on legislation. Anyone reading this, please don’t be so easily duped and manipulated by games of the establishment and other enemies of real change from the left.

    2. Warmonger? Dramatic much? Obviously disillusioned with reality yes.. This guy is an absolute misogynistic creep. But he maybe able to linger around with conspiracy theorists like you. You’re no better than the QAnon folks.

    3. So Nancy Pelosi not only got a long-time acquaintance of Shahid’s to accuse him of sexual harassment but ALSO got his own STAFF to quit and then give interviews in which they say he’s a misogynist?

      Wow. Someone *that* powerful better be working for me. I’m definitely voting for Nancy Pelosi now.

      1. All we know is JE says these things happened. All it would take is for HIM to be in Nancy Pellosi’s pocket. We don’t know what actually happened. Why do so many simply accept his word wholesale? The truth is out there . . .

        1. Dear Mitch — 

          There were a number of on-the-record quotes in this story. But you’re right: We don’t know what happened. We only know what a number of people are saying, on the record, happened, and Mr. Buttar is saying, on the record, did not happen.

          We also know it’s spelled “Pelosi.” And that it’s crassly stupid and reductive to assume reporters who write articles you don’t like are on the take.

          Best,

          JE

          1. What is she saying the unwanted physical contact was? Also, was he her boss or I. A position where he controlled her career? Were they dating? Did she tell anyone? Would she be admonished from speaking up? I’d really like to know. As it stands now, the story is that he tried to have sex with her, they talked about sex and he was a douche as a boss. I need more in order to stop supporting him. Like a more specific incidents of mistreatment of female employees. Was there different pay? Belittling comments? Alienation? I don’t want to be a hypocrite b/c I was done with Biden when I saw the Reade interview, but I just need something more. I also don’t think trying to get sex makes a man a predator, however the unwanted physical advance she mentions could put him in the category. I think that’s important.

    4. One thing I’m not buying: This plutocrat-bots’ campaign to attack Nancy Pelosi extending into the “Justice Democrats” saboteurs.

      Stop your nonsense.

      This is serious. In case you haven’t noticed, we are in a constitutional crisis compounded by a pandemic and a soon-to-be-sunk economy.

    1. Which part of the playbook has the directions on how to have your opposition’s STAFF *quit* and then accuse their former employer of misogyny?

      I’m finding these Shahid-truthers equally entertaining and insane, myself.

      1. Yes, they are all insane. Check out his ubiquitous FB ads. One rightwing trope after another, all attacking Pelosi.

        And the knuckleheads who respond.

        It’s all sickening. More sabotage from the “Justice Democrats.”

        I mean….how gullible are these young people to believe that AOC isn’t the puppet of some very bad actors.

  2. This is so obviously an attempt to take down a formidable opponent at the 11th hour. Disgusting and transparent. Listen to his interview on the Majority Report, look at his work on civil rights. Let’s compare the only things we can truly measure about these two candidates: their records as public servants. Shahid wins, no contest.

    1. “Formidable opponent at the 11th hour”? Buttar’s lost to Pelosi in a landslide not once but twice already.

    2. Gosh! Who’d have thunk it?

      A “progressive” leftist who pays himself $100,000 out of funds supposedly “for the cause”, desires power, and misuses what little power he has.

      Bill Clinton must be so proud.

      I BELIEVE THE WOMEN and I find the denials here by lefty supplicants both hypocritical and hysterical.

      1. Considering that pelosi ran a campaign for the first time in decades (I got multiple calls and text messages to vote for her) I would certainly say she’s worried

    3. Jane. You’re no better than the misogynists who create daily struggles for women in the workplace

    1. Then why don’t you sit this one out.

      You obviously have trouble with decision making, and we cannot afford more sabotage.

  3. Yall are insane if you think shahid had any chance of winning even before this came out.

    Also do we really believe that multiple former staff are some how apart of a Pelosi conspiracy? Lol.

  4. What does her act have to do with it? Or are you just saying she’s too unattractive to be a victim of harassment? If you are, you’re woefully wrong about how harassment happens.

  5. Ok, so now what? We dump Buttar and support a war mongering corporate neo liberal ? I hate knowing this about Buttar but he’s a damn sight better than most. Like Rebecca Solnit says, votes are not love letters, they are chess moves.

    1. By all means vote for whomever you prefer, but let’s be serious – the 12th District is Pelosi’s chessboard and Buttar was always playing checkers. This is all performative politics that pays him over $8,000 dollars a month, Representative Pelosi was never losing this race. Particularly when his own staff is leaving the campaign in disgust, I mean if you can’t count on your staff for votes….

      1. “Performative Politics” — nice and succinct. Thank you.

        It’s still sad that some staffers claim to “still believe” in his “platform.”

        Same thing happened with Vermont Jesus.

        The cult just doesn’t connect the personal with the political.

    2. Here’s a possibility in response to your “now what’?

      Stop throwing mindless tantrums and get serious about digging our country out of the ditch.

      1. Jake,

        What’s your full name?

        I’m Harold Lee Brown.

        Google doesn’t give me anything when I ask about ‘Jek T’ in SF.

        You’ve slandered a great American writer.

        Now, man up or shut up!

        Gascon for DA in LA!

        h.

  6. look at you faux woke commentators “not believing her”….pathetic hypocrisy of the progressives. Doesn’t benefit you so now you won’t believe every woman. I’m not voting for a misogynistic man bunner.

  7. I’ve known Shahid for close to 20 years too and I’ve NEVER seen anything close to the behavior she accused him on. At times, he has seemed like more of a feminist than even me. Normally, I give people the benefit of the doubt but this is so polar opposite of who I know Shahid to be I cannot believe this.

    This is sad not only for Shahid but for any woman who has legitimate claims around sexual harassment. If Pelosi is behind this she should be ashamed of herself for continuing to value power and money over doing the right thing.

    1. Funny, people said the same thing about Harvey Weinstein and Brett Kavanaugh. Believe all women-until they go against your politics. Then it’s shut up and business as usual.

  8. Joe Good reporting. Given Mission Locals reader base, it must have been appealing to not publish this. The wacky comments that dismiss struggles of women in the workplace prove this. You made the right decision.

    1. Juan — 

      I’d publish a story about publicly leveled charges against my own mother (assuming she was running for office, etc. You get it).

      Thanks for reading,

      JE

  9. Believe all women-unless it’s an uber left member of the progressive faction of the DNC. Then that woman is a liar and must be silenced.

    1. No one believes “Believe all women” – that would be a really stupid thing to do. Using “Believe all women” as a political cudgel – sure lots of people play that game.

  10. I’m almost tickled pink by all the women posting here defending this guy. Bet you all were screaming “Believe all women” during the Kavanaugh hearings and Weinstein’s sentencing right? The hypocrisy of the uber-left progressives of SF never ceases to amaze me….

    1. Except when this woman is known in the DC community for fabricating lies and is known not to be trusted..

  11. Perhaps most troubling is that the staffers didn’t have this hustler’s measure BEFORE they worked with him and, for a very long time, saw his misogyny in action.

    Where are they learning judgment and critical thinking?

    Do they just “believe” — and are easy marks for demagogues tossing brazen platitudes?

    This is scary.

  12. You do know the billionaires who fund the establishment aren’t doing it out of the good of their heart, right? Plus, Pelosi voted to increase the military budget, doesn’t want a green new deal, and more. I’m not defending Shahid if this is true, but to claim that Pelosi is for the people is blind. She also increased funding for ICE. To act like she cares about anyone but herself is to ignore her record from 2010s to today in congress.

    1. You LefTeas crack me up. You certainly think you are the center of the universe.

      Based on your getting a text from Nancy Pelosi’s campaign, you decide it’s the challenge from this shameless hustler that prompted it.

      The only thing Pelosi is worried about is this country and its people.

      And shame on you feckless misogynists for failing her and failing your country.

  13. Accusations towards Shahid could be true, or not, but the timing does make wonder about the intent, and where it’s originating from.
    I still question why Nancy Pelosy wasn’t able to come up with a stronger plan to impeach Trump.

    1. >> Accusations towards Shahid could be true, or not, but the timing does make wonder about the intent, and where it’s originating from.

      Well once the sexual harassment accusations hit the wire then members his *former staff*,, who all quit for various reasons went on-the-record to detail his misogyny. The folks who HELPED him during the primary, deserting him before the general election would be seen by most people as pretty damning evidence. But others, apparently, only see shadowy “timing” at play or perhaps “conspiracy.”

      >> I still question why Nancy Pelosy wasn’t able to come up with a stronger plan to impeach Trump.

      LOL. Let me repeat that: LOL. Yes, yes, I too thought Pelosi’s plan for impeaching Trump was inadequate since it stopped short of locking up every Republican Senator in a broom closet for two months and preventing them from voting to acquit him which is precisely what happened. I’m sure Shahid had a much better plan to prevent the Republican Senators from doing what literally anyone paying attention knew they were going to do.

      1. These arrogant naifs just leave me breathless.

        How can anyone this stupid still be able to type? Are they using voice control?

        The “progressives” are worse than the MAGAs, who to their credit at least do not lie about having high ideals and noble goals.

  14. his biggest mistake was being successful. he should have gone into corporate law. stanford jd in his mid twenties. he blew it. its so easy to knock someone down on trumped up allegations. found guilty simultaneously with accusations arising. Distict 12 is powerful. Amoral and powerful

    1. Oh, you think he made the CHOICE not to have a career instead of hustling campaign funds based on lies?

      I think it was the default.

  15. This insignificant man felt the need to campaign against Nancy Pelosi. He could have tried to take on a smaller, local position, but he can’t stand to see a middle aged woman in a position of power. I am so very tired of this dynamic!

    Nancy Pelosi doesn’t reflect all of my values, but I’d like to see anyone handle the maniac in the White House and a Republican-led senate as effectively as she has. The particular allegations against this dude may or may not be true. Given his ridiculous campaign, they aren’t difficult to believe.

    1. jujube,

      Is that handle after the gummies from Grand Theatre in St. Louis?

      Anyway, Nancy is only ‘middle aged’ now if she lives to be over
      160.

      loo

      Me too, close behind.

      Go Giants!

      h.

    2. But that’s the “Justice Democrats” strategy, and they make no secret of it.

      They focus on taking out powerful Democrats, and the four manipulative bros behind the JDs use every tech trick in the book to funnel money from God knows where into their pockets, “on behalf” of their candidates. Their chosen candidates.

      This is the biggest scam going. And it’s a mark of how social-media manipulations and Internet gamesmanship has skewed any sense of truth or decency.

      They are knocking out powerful Democrats and replacing them with their mouthpieces — amateurs. AOC and her ilk.

      Committing campaign fraud and very few report on it?

      What’s wrong with this picture.

      Are young people that poorly educated and impulsive — that they fall for these cons?

      I’m afraid that’s the only possibility.

  16. Looking back o this story as the current furor around the ultimate “creep” Nancy Pelosi fuels again and she stifles health care for millions of women…. interesting how some things go

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