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Who is Patrick McCallum? Husband of Sonoma State president, veteran lobbyist, named in campus sexual harassment complaints

The husband of Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki is a veteran Sacramento lobbyist who has specialized in higher education clients and causes.|

The California State University system in January reached a $600,000 settlement to resolve a claim by a former Sonoma State University provost alleging SSU President Judy Sakaki retaliated against her for reporting sexual harassment complaints about Sakaki’s husband, Patrick McCallum.

CSU investigators interviewed three individuals in 2019 who had reported their encounters with McCallum to the provost, Lisa Vollendorf. In her claim with CSU, Vollendorf said the allegations “painted a cohesive picture of harassment” by McCallum.

An SSU spokesperson told The Press Democrat the complaints involved “touching and conversations that made some individuals uncomfortable.”

According to excerpts from the Title IX investigation shared by SSU with The Press Democrat, one of the individuals said they hadn’t been harassed by Sakaki’s spouse and didn’t want to make a complaint. Another said they hadn’t witnessed harassment.

A fourth person said they did not want a formal investigation but requested that McCallum be talked to about what is considered appropriate behavior.

McCallum initially issued a blanket denial Wednesday that he had acted inappropriately.

“I deny any allegation that I engaged in any wrongful conduct toward anyone,” he said in a written statement.

On Friday, in response to more detailed questions from The Press Democrat about specific allegations of misconduct, he issued a general apology.

“I want to apologize to anyone who has felt uncomfortable in my presence or through my actions,” he said. “It was never my intent to act disrespectfully but it's clear that I made some people uncomfortable. For that, I'm truly sorry.”

Here is some basic background on McCallum’s professional life, his work in higher education and ties to Sonoma State through Sakaki.

• While not an employee of Sonoma State, McCallum frequently served as a “university volunteer” and was an active presence on campus, attending many SSU-sponsored events with campus employees, including some hosted at his and Sakaki’s home.

McCallum and Sakaki married in 2016. A year later, they lost their Santa Rosa home, in the upscale Fountaingrove neighborhood, in the 2017 Tubbs fire. The couple had to run for their lives as flames overtook their block on Hanover Place. They have since resettled in a Bennett Valley home.

• He heads up the McCallum Group, a Sacramento-based lobbying firm specializing in but not limited to issues in higher education. The group lists over 40 community college districts in California as being clients and also worked on behalf of clients in health care, technology, financial services and real estate.

• He lobbies for employee associations including the California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

• Following the 2017 firestorm, McCallum became a lead face and chief lobbyist for Up from the Ashes, an advocacy group focused on wildfire policy. A self-described coalition of wildfire survivors, Up from the Ashes was backed by heavyweight trial attorneys representing thousands of property owners against Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which at the time was in bankruptcy.

• He majored in international relations and economics at San Francisco State, then earned a master’s in public policy from Occidental College, according to his company’s website.

• He served as executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, which grew from 1,600 members to over 9,000 members during his tenure. Before that, he worked for the U.S. Department of Labor.

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

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