News has an interesting way of surfacing online in the internet age but it was an in-person question at a press conference that thrust the tense 52nd congressional race into chaos Wednesday.
The L.A. Times’ Tony Perry pressed Republican Carl DeMaio about whether he had been interviewed by sex crimes detectives in regard to allegations he had harassed a former staffer.
Not many people knew what allegations he was talking about.
The exchange was remarkable and it led to a major story in Politico that lit up the internet.
But buried in the news was the revelation that this former staffer had actually come forward many months ago to Mike Slater, who hosts a morning show on AM 760 KFMB. DeMaio’s accuser, Todd Bosnich, confirmed to me that he had done a long interview with Slater about how he says DeMaio treated him.
As Politico reported, Bosnich alleges that DeMaio sexually harassed him over a period of months and that the campaign fired him and offered him money to stay quiet when he confronted the candidate. DeMaio spokesman David McCulloch says that never happened and that Bosnich was fired because of a plagiarism scandal in May, and he’s only retaliating after becoming a suspect in the bizarre burglary of DeMaio’s campaign headquarters.
But the show never aired. Bosnich told me in a written message that he stands by his comments to Slater “100 percent.”
I asked Slater why he didn’t broadcast it.
“We asked him for some further proof until he’s able to give some it’s not appropriate to air his story on the radio,” Slater said.
I don’t know that we would have run an interview alone like that, either. But Politico did find the way to do it: If someone like DeMaio addresses it in public, it’s news. They got Bosnich’s interview and more from him.
By the end of Thursday, Bosnich’s lawyer was handling his press relations.
DeMaio said the police have cleared him of wrongdoing, but that only provoked more questions.
– Scott Lewis
The Cops Stay Quiet and the DA Faces Another Political Conflict
DeMaio threw out a couple of big claims during his press conference Wednesday.
He said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman personally called him in August to say that his ex-staffer’s sexual harassment claims were unfounded and that the investigation was finished. He also said he expected District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to act against the same ex-staffer in the burglary case, which he said was sitting on her desk. SDPD and the DA’s office released statements on the situation, but didn’t confirm or deny DeMaio’s claims.
Thursday evening, I approached Zimmerman and Dumanis, who were standing together at an anti-domestic violence event downtown. I began asking Zimmerman whether she had called DeMaio when Dumanis cut me off.
“We don’t have anything to add other than what we said,” Dumanis said. “That’s it.” She then turned to Zimmerman, said, “Let’s go,” and the pair walked away.
Dumanis endorsed DeMaio at this end of his failed 2012 mayoral campaign against Bob Filner. She now could face a second prosecutorial conflict over that decision.
When making the endorsement, she said DeMaio had demonstrated “the leadership and positive vision to be our next mayor,” and slammed Filner over his treatment of women. DeMaio later held a fundraiser for Dumanis’ successful re-election in June.
Last year, she recused herself from the criminal investigations into Filner’s sexual harassment and battery, which state prosecutors ultimately handled.
So now, on the eve of one of the most closely watched congressional elections in the country, Dumanis has at least one and maybe two potential prosecutions in her office that could swing the race for or against DeMaio.
Seven years ago, Dumanis swore off endorsing most political candidates for this very kind of situation. She didn’t want her office to be seen as a political “pawn.”
— Liam Dillon