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There’s a moment in this ad for Carl DeMaio when he’s seen shaking hands with a woman.
That woman is Ashley Hayek. She is a prolific local fundraiser for GOP causes. She’s a passionate conservative who, like many, was supportive of DeMaio and the reform movement he seemed to be leading.
As his fundraiser, Hayek helped DeMaio rake in donations for his congressional race. It was going so well, they caught the attention of national Republicans.
She’s not a fan any longer. And it is not because of any of the nasty allegations now dogging him.
“I am not supporting Carl because of the disrespectful way he treated me and others during and after I worked with him,” she said.
Hayek refused to reveal in detail what happened. She appears to have parted ways with the candidate along with many of his former consultants whom DeMaio felt betrayed him when choosing to support Kevin Faulconer for mayor in a special election last year.
DeMaio’s spokesman David McCulloch wrote in an email that Hayek had been replaced because she had other clients.
“The volume and national reach of our fundraising necessitated hiring a full time in-house fundraising team member, Stacia de los Reyes, rather than continuing to use a fundraising consultant with many clients,” he wrote.
For many days now, I’ve been calling people who worked with DeMaio to get as complete a picture as possible of him as a manager. I asked each if they’d ever seen or heard of him doing anything like what his former staffer Todd Bosnich alleged on national television.
None had. In fact many, even those who would not speak on the record said they felt a deep gratitude to DeMaio. What emerged was a consensus around several points: DeMaio is an extremely difficult person to serve. He demands results, often impatiently.
All agreed DeMaio has a maniacal work ethic. He’s known to send messages late at night and early in the morning. He maintains an absurdly intense daily schedule and demands results from subordinates, while coming down hard on those who don’t fit. He can be hurtful and abusive if he feels let down.
But several people said that made them rise to the occasion and gave them skills they never would have had without him.
“He gave me a shot,” said Heather Ingram, who served as DeMaio’s executive assistant for many years. “He hires them young and likes to train them to put them in the right state of mind for the work ethic he expects of people.”
Ingram said he empowered her and taught her how to stand up to mostly older men when she was involved in collecting revenue on accounts in DeMaio’s former businesses.
“He never once made me feel like I was second to him or any man or less than anything because I didn’t have the education he had. He was nothing but supportive and empowering,” Ingram said.
But working for him was definitely rough, she said.
“If you can’t keep up with him, he lets you go. That’s the way it goes,” Ingram said.
She finally left when she realized she couldn’t maintain the intensity as she started to build a family.
I asked Ryan Clumpner, who was DeMaio’s campaign manager when he ran for mayor in 2012, how he reflected on his time with DeMaio.
“It requires a certain fortitude to work for Carl DeMaio,” he wrote in an email. “Not everyone is cut out for it. Sometimes people don’t cope well when they realize it’s not what they were expecting. Personally, I’m grateful for the time I spent working for Carl.”
Logan Casteel is not so grateful. In early 2012, he started as a canvasser for DeMaio’s mayoral campaign. He soon assumed the role of personal assistant and driver for DeMaio. He would work from early in the morning until sometimes late at night.
In a long email, Casteel said DeMaio was insistent that Casteel help him avoid passionate supporters of his opponent, then-Rep. Bob Filner.
“Anytime the very Liberal Left sent out supporters to picket and shout, we worked out a plan to avoid them as much as possible. This included me hiding in the car in parked alleyways or sneaking out back doors to get the car as close as possible to the exit DeMaio would take,” he wrote.
If these evasive maneuvers failed, “I would be berated, and yelled/screamed at,” Casteel wrote.
“To be quite frank, I was a doormat. Anytime something frustrated or irritated DeMaio, I heard and felt the effects,” he wrote. To satisfy DeMaio’s impatience, he said the campaign advised him to risk running red lights or exceed the speed limit. The campaign would pay for tickets, he was assured.
He always supported DeMaio’s message and politics, Casteel wrote. But he reconsidered working for the man.
DeMaio’s campaign did not respond to Casteel’s account. The campaign spokesman instead charged that I was only interested in spreading smears.
Niether Casteel nor anyone else I spoke to said they had ever heard of or seen DeMaio do anything sexually inappropriate.
Eventually, after he asked to be removed from serving DeMaio as a driver, Casteel got a spot working for the Republican Party of San Diego’s get-out-the-vote effort and was let go after the election.
It all worked out for the best, he wrote.
Update: We updated the headline to better reflect that the ex-staffers we interviewed said they hadn’t heard of or seen DeMaio do anything sexually inappropriate. And we added some words to help explain DeMaio’s team was not interested in responding to Casteel’s account.