Friday afternoon, on national television, less than a month before one of the most competitive and expensive elections in the country, an ex-staffer of Carl DeMaio told CNN that DeMaio had called him into his office and masturbated in front of him.

That wasn’t all. The former staffer, Todd Bosnich, said that DeMaio massaged and kissed his neck and touched him inappropriately in separate incidents over a period of months. And when Bosnich, who is gay, told DeMaio to stop harassing him, Bosnich said DeMaio’s campaign manager fired him and offered him $50,000 to keep quiet.

The outlines of these accusations had been in the news since Wednesday. But Friday, Bosnich delivered the lascivious details of the allegations against DeMaio, who is running for Congress, for the first time and on CNN’s cameras.

Since Wednesday, and again in the CNN story, DeMaio, who is also gay, unequivocally denied he sexually harassed Bosnich and offered a competing narrative for why Bosnich dropped this bomb. DeMaio said he fired Bosnich for a well-known plagiarism incident earlier this year and that Bosnich is the prime suspect in the burglary of DeMaio’s campaign office, which occurred in May soon after Bosnich was fired.

“It’s unfortunate. He’s clearly troubled. He got caught for the damage that he did to the campaign and now he’s manufacturing in essence a cover story to explain away his actions,” DeMaio told CNN.

Bosnich denied to CNN that he was involved in the break-in and said DeMaio was the main author of the plagiarized report. No one has been charged in the burglary.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

There’s a lot to try to make sense of here. We’re going to break down four key points.

This Is Different Than Bob Filner

DeMaio lost the 2012 mayoral election to Bob Filner, who imploded after less than a year in office following numerous sexual harassment complaints.

There’s been a lot of effort to draw parallels between what is happening to DeMaio and what happened to Filner last year. One of the biggest differences, however, is how they responded.

Filner never directly denied the charges against him. In fact, the first statement he made before any woman actually stepped forward with detailed allegations was “I’m sorry.” His response was, in a way, the most damning evidence. It was always something along the lines of: They won’t be able to prove I sexually harassed anyone.

But it was never, “I did not do what they said and I would never do that.”

That’s different in this case – both sides are digging in their heels on their very different version of events. DeMaio is calling Bosnich a liar, and provides a motive for why he’d make it up.

But Like Filner, DeMaio Has a Reputation of Treating His Staff Badly

Aside from the sexual harassment problems, Filner had a lengthy reputation of treating his employees poorly. Filner’s former chief of staff called him vicious and dehumanizing.

DeMaio also has a reputation as a bully – something we can attest to in times that we’ve been critical of him.

DeMaio’s alienated some of his closest former staffers, those who helped him almost reach the mayor’s office in 2012. He’s no longer communicating with his former chief of staff on City Council, someone he’d known since high school.

Few of DeMaio’s longtime political allies are working with him in this congressional race, and some are actively speaking out against him.

Now, as DeMaio is facing allegations that he sexually harassed a staffer – his biggest political crisis – he’s left to weather the storm without the people who have been part of his team for so many years.

The Other DeMaio Masturbation Episode Has Resurfaced, But a Key Witness Still Denies it Happened

Last year, state Sen. Ben Hueso told the Voice of OC (which has no relationship with VOSD) that he had seen DeMaio masturbating in a restroom near the City Council chambers. Also included in Hueso’s account was that former City Council President Tony Young had also witnessed DeMaio’s behavior – but Young himself didn’t talk with Voice of OC.

When the U-T confronted Hueso, he stood his ground. CNN dredged up that allegation again Friday.

Importantly, Young denied this after it first became news. He reaffirmed that denial to us Friday afternoon. He did not see anything, he said.

What About Law Enforcement?

A major part of DeMaio’s defense is that law enforcement is on his side. DeMaio said Wednesday that SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman called him personally in August to tell him Bosnich’s sexual harassment complaints were without merit. DeMaio also said that the burglary case against Bosnich was on District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ desk, and he expected him to be held accountable for the crime.

But neither SDPD nor the DA’s office will confirm any of that. Zimmerman and Dumanis, who is a political ally of DeMaio, both declined to comment on his claims when I tried to ask them about it Thursday evening. Spokesmen for the pair said they had nothing to add again Friday after the CNN report aired.

Prosecutions, or the lack thereof, in both cases remain the biggest shoes to drop in this scandal.

Scott Lewis contributed to this report.

    This article relates to: 52nd Congressional District Race, Carl DeMaio, News, Politics, Share

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

    ZachW subscriber

    This is pretty funny.  This story was published on 10-October-2014 with the headline "

    How to Process the DeMaio Bombshell".

    Today is 24-October-2014 and I just came across this and thought "THE bombshell"?  What is THE bombshell, there have been so many that keep falling almost on a daily basis.

    DeMaio is a scandal magnet.

    mjbin99 subscriber

    San Diego is in big trouble!  Most every politician is worthless and untrustworthy. The Republican party is a joke now and so are the Democrats. No one worth voting for any more.

    Glad to see DeMaio get exposed though as he is such a con man and there are many gullible people. No wonder people don't even care about voting any longer.

    Never fear, Christ will return as promised and He will deal with all this garbage.

    Even so, come Lord Jesus!  You are the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE!  John 14:6

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    The one thing we can be sure of is that if something damaged a campaign or politician, it will be used in the next election.  The Filner mess has led to this kind of sexual allegations / mud slinging. 

    On Sunday I read  that the Tea Party refuses to back Carl DeMaio in his race yet I continued to see ads that claim he is in line with the Tea Party.  Someone in  Democratic party HQ needs to read newspapers.  Looks like they have it wrong.

    Alex Sachs
    Alex Sachs subscriber

    Mr. Younger, while this Tri-City group has declined to support DeMaio, they are but one group, and if you try to read through the lines, they must oppose DeMaio because he would bring a gay person into an anti-gay GOP caucus. Their main goal (Tri-City as well as other Tea Party groups) seems to be to press strong loyalty to hard-right positions and support of those GOP positions. If that's the goal, then DeMaio really is their man. Thanks.

    Glenn Younger
    Glenn Younger subscribermember

    @Alex Sachs Could be true.  What I find troubling is that the anti- DeMaio ads seem to be be making stuff up and it makes the Democratic party look silly and out of touch.  Carl DeMaio wants to take away students loans?  Where did this stuff come from?  Mr DeMaio has never been in a position to voice an opinion on  or vote on Student Loans.  

    It's just the kind of stuff that gets put out there and it does not have to be true.  It is what is making political ads spam.  The Democratic Party can do better.  

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Younger: I find this an interesting issue for a number of reasons. The Democratic National Congressional Committee 2014 says on its website, "But on the issues that matter to San Diegans, Carl DeMaio’s record and the Tea Party’s agenda in Washington are one and the same." Essentially they seem to be saying that he is not a Tea Party member, but is in alignment with Tea Party values and priorities.

    It seems to me that this sort of statement is both easy and impossible to make because the Tea Party isn't really a political party. It has no consensus agenda, of which I am aware, because it is more of a general (and rather flexible) ideology, rather than a national group that agrees upon specific principles. There is no national structure as there is in the Rep and Dem parties where ultimately a platform is approved.

    It is understandable why Peters' supporters would wish to characterize DeMaio as a Republican who backs a Tea Party agenda. A minority (around a third) of the district are Republicans and presumably a minority of them align with the Tea Party. So in this district, alignment with the Tea Party would be viewed as alignment with extremists that the majority of the electorate don't support.

    It is therefore equally understandable why DeMaio would want to run from the label of being a Tea Party acolyte. Whether his agenda aligns with the Tea Party or Tea Party groups, I do not know. Presumably his views are closer to them than those of his challenger.

    What is intriguing to me is that by effectively disparaging the Tea Party to avoid the label, Mr. DeMaio may well be angering a piece of his natural support base in the district to the point that they won't vote for either him or his challenger. That's a tough position to be in because the more extreme liberal voters are unlikely to take a pass on voting for Peters, even though he has a fairly moderate voting record that doesn't fully embrace their views. Essentially DeMaio has decided it's better to toss the Tea Party folks in his district off the bus in an effort to keep the Republicans and independents that might endorse his agenda on board. It will be interesting to see if that strategy is effective or if being labelled a Tea Party Republican forced him into a Hobson's choice.

    In May CBS News reported, "Today, just 15 percent of Americans say they are supporters of the tea party movement - the lowest since CBS News began asking about the tea party in February 2010. The tea party reached its highest level of support (31 percent) in November 2010, soon after the midterm elections."

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    Will I be able to enjoy tonight's NFL telecast without having to mute a plethora of De-Me-me-me-o's "I'm just a warm and fuzzy guy" ads?

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    @David Cohen Sure, just record it and skip through the 43M worth of ads proclaiming DeMaio as the Savior or Devil, ditto for the saintly or evil Peters.

    Matty Azure
    Matty Azure subscriber

    I like the sign on Carl's podium pictured above, "Clean Up City Hall."


    I hope he's got a large supply of antibacterial moist wipes

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    Most telling is that we were INUNDATED with self-serving DeMe-me-me-o ads during the evening NFL game yesterday.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    @David Cohen Didn't notice the Peters ads, David?  Or don't you count the ones where distraught "teachers" claim he's dismembering education funding?

    jdefrank subscriber

    It is the October Surprise as in any close race someone has to dig it up and it was CNN. The sad part is that everyone believes CNN is a legitimate News Organization so they will believe what is written but this is the same news organization that didn't report on Fast n Furious, IRS, Benghazi, and other Obama scandals. A little know congressional race and CNN is on top of it. You have to thank the DNC & CNN for this political Ad.

    John H Borja
    John H Borja subscriber

    This all politically motivated. I am not, nor will ever be, a DeMaio supporter. But, we must respect our individual decency. DeMaio has the same rights as anyone else. He does not deserve this type of  "red baiting".  All things are acceptable in love and war is a misnomer. I don't like his politics, but he is a human being. That must be respected. Shame on the "operative" that chose to demean our electoral process. Corruption is easy, and so is cheating. Let's compete on a level playing field. What is happening to him is totally UNFAIR. 

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @John H Borja Blaming the victim of sexual harassment of being an "operative" is what is totally UNFAIR.  You should be ashamed.

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    @David Benz @John H Borja David, I missed the phrase "alleged victim" in your post. Apparently, we can eliminate the justice system to save money and have you adjudicate everything. Thank you for your service!

    Ven Griva
    Ven Griva subscriber

    It's time for the RNC to cut its losses. 

    obboy13 subscriber

    Wait, wait Liam this is all about the old Carl.  The new Carl doesn't bully staff, the new Carl is respectful and inclusive.  It was the old Carl that was a major disruptive element at City Hall, the new Carl is loved by all even Jerry Sanders.  The old Carl was famous for adopting the work of others as his own, the new Carl is a reformer who now believes only what the polls tell him is popular.  The old Carl allegedly engaged in two offensive public displays, the new Carl is just surrounded by liars and crooks, so he's completely innocent.  The old Carl was all about taking personal credit for anything good that happened in San Diego; the new Carl...well the new Carl would like everyone to forget about the old Carl so he can take credit for everything good that's happened in San Diego.  

    There is one thing that hasn't changed though.  The new Carl is still perfect, just like the old Carl.  Don't think so?  Just ask him, he'll tell you what you need er um want to hear.

    obboy13 subscriber

    @-P @obboy13 Ah fond I've said before, if the drought ends prior to the election, look for Carl to hold a presser taking credit for the rain.

    -P subscriber

    @obboy13 Remember what Mayor Sanders said about Carl? ""He probably takes credit for my weight loss. He probably takes credit for the weeds I pulled in the backyard last week. It’s all bulls---."

    Joe Point
    Joe Point subscriber

    Even the gay community didn't support DeMaio before this broke. He is an embarrassment.  Like Filner....his past behavior and treatment of others demonstrate he is a bad apple that should never be in public office.

    Alex Sachs
    Alex Sachs subscriber

    There are many reasons not to send Carl to Congress - especially his animus toward working people and working people with pensions, his ties to the Tea Party, Koch Brothers and Boehner, who is campaigning for him today. Carl's behavior toward staff, including possible illegal sexual harassment and offers of hush money, should also be considered by voters.

    Andy Cohen is correct, I think, when he says the young man's story is not new - it was quashed shortly after the primary. As Andy says, CNN clearly was on this story for weeks if not months. Carl's campaign took this allegation seriously and clearly worked hard to quash the CNN story - bringing in Ric Grennel and the kind of top GOP attorney 'fixers' typically reserved for Presidential campaign battles, not Congressional races. I don't know if the young man's allegations are true, nor do I know anything about the break in, but I do think it is relevant to consider now that CNN, the LA Times and Politico have brought it to light. [unlike tabloids and other sources, these news organizations actually do quite a bit of legwork before publishing.]

    One thing I don't like is that these stories are playing out with talk about sex and sex acts, including particular sex acts. This part of the coverage tends to fuel homophobia and homophobic reactions that I don't think belong in 2014 political campaigns.

    Voters, I hope you will vote for Scott Peters, a good, honorable public servant in this business for all the right reasons - truly serving the people of the 52nd District and all San Diegans.

    If you are at all considering a vote for Carl, please consider his hostility toward working people, his failure to offer solutions for today's problems, and his ties to the shady special interests trying to buy elections this year. And, yes, consider whether you think this person will mistreat or harass staff if elected, and whether his hard ball tactics (pressuring news organizations, pressuring other politicians, potentially offering hush money) are the kinds of things you want in your Congressperson.

    Brian Peterson
    Brian Peterson subscriber

    @Alex Sachs Even though I am not a supporter of Scott Peters for a variety of reasons (pension underfunding, blind support of redevelopment--especially Grantville redevelopment, and as council president manipulating city council agendas so working people were effectively excluded from participating in public hearings), thank you for providing the most rational analysis of this congressional race--a moment of clarity.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    The great mistake of the electorate and supporters with respect to Bob Filner was that he had a long history of intemperate, boorish, and sexist behavior. He had a history of treating staff miserably. Those who wanted someone with his policy views in office looked past that. Similarly, DeMaio has a history of intemperate, boorish, and downright bizarre behavior. He too has a history of treating staff badly. The possibility here is that it is fully recognized before he is elected, not after, as was the mistake with Filner.

    As for the Police Chief, it’s really concerning that she purportedly called him personally in August to tell him the sexual harassment complaints were without merit. (Who gets a personal call from the Police Chief unless they are a friend of Shelly?) The Police Chief should not be involved in politics. Meanwhile, official statements of the Police Department are that they don’t comment on investigations and just forward them to the District Attorney. To my understanding, the Police Department does not forward every investigation they undertake to the DA. Rather, they forward cases that they think involve criminal activity that the DA would prosecute to the DA. (Otherwise the DA would be drowning in paperwork.)

    More importantly though, the Chief is said by the person alleged to have committed a crime to have told him the allegations were without merit. She shouldn’t have done that if she did, but she needs to clear it up pronto. Did she or did she not make those statements? Moreover, if the DA is the ultimate decider of whether this is a crime that should be prosecuted, then how is the Police Chief in a position to say, in effect, you won’t be prosecuted. Very unseemly.

    Linda Tegarden
    Linda Tegarden subscriber

    So much for fair and balanced.  This comes off as a shrill Enquirer-like outlier piece that you hope will titillate the reader? Those sub-heads are pretty startling... In your coverage of DeMaio in general, do you ever say anything good about the guy? 

    In this one you draw parallels with Filner, but then say it really isn't the same thing as though DeMaio is as bad but learned handling lessons from Filner's debacle...then the accusation from Ben Hueso-who is a drunk but maybe not a liar.  You never scrutinize Bosnich or his background.  How reliable is he, who are his friends, what is his history as an employee, what do his peers have to say about him?  We get nothing to make a comparison with--except a moribund Filner.  

    I have no interest in Carl DeMaio, not connected in any way.  But in spite of Mr. Cohen's well timed remarks below as to the genesis of the complaints, this just seems toooooooooooo convenient for DeMaio's opponent.  Pretty masterful hit-piece if it had been done by DeMaio's opponent. 

    David Cohen
    David Cohen subscriber

    DeMe-me-me-o is burnt toast that not even Boehner can make edible again.

    Bob Hudson
    Bob Hudson subscriber

    @Linda Tegarden " You never scrutinize Bosnich or his background.  How reliable is he, who are his friends, what is his history as an employee, what do his peers have to say about him?  "

    Certainly law enforcement can and will look at the complaintant's credibility and motive, but If this complaint had been from a woman, you would never think of asking a newspaper to put her under the microscope like that: It would rightfully be seen as attacking the victim and there would be howls of protest.

    Sadly, DeMaio's own history adds credibility to these charges and at this point, this may all be for the good as it reminds voter's we don't need to elect another bully. Politically I agree more with DeMaio, but we have to learn that character trumps ideology. We've had Randy Duke Cunningham in Congress (and the equally randy Jim Bates), feel-them-up Filner in Congress and the Mayor's office: do we need add to that list of losers we've chosen to repreesent us?  

    David Benz
    David Benz subscriber

    @Linda Tegarden You are a terrible liar Linda.  You question the character of everyone critical of DeMaio, going as far as calling one a drunk and then claim "I have no interest in Carl DeMaio".

    What a joke.

    Linda Tegarden
    Linda Tegarden subscriber

    @Bob Hudson @Linda Tegarden You are incorrect sir.  I would want to know the bias and background of anyone bringing charges, especially the politically motivated kind and those of a sexual graphic as the VOSD has related them to be.  Because someone brings a charge, it does not automatically make them a victim.  Wouldn't it be good to know how reliable Bosnich has been--how trustworthy?

    Carl DeMaio may not be the best person to represent the 52nd District.  I do not know him, only know of him and his passion for budget reform.  That is what I like about him.  Perhaps he is a boor, a bully and a variety of other things--we cannot legislate personality.  He seems honest to me about the financial aspect of government.  I care about that.

    I felt that this was a very one sided editorial piece rather than investigative journalism.  Just my opinion.     

    Linda Tegarden
    Linda Tegarden subscriber

    @David Benz @Linda Tegarden Apparently you have some connection to the Bosnich person to be so shrilly defensive.  I did not lie about anyone or any thing.  I said Ben Hueso is a drunk.  It is true, he was arrestedin Sacramento for it recently and is in the middle of negotiating a plea deal or some such thing...

    I felt the piece was not balanced but very obviously anti Carl DeMaio.  Perhaps at the end of the day we will find out that there just isn't anything good to say about him...I don't know how it will turn out.  

    With his history, I cannot see how Scott Peters can be the lesser of two undesireables.  I think you owe me an apology, sweetie!

    Bob Hudson
    Bob Hudson subscriber

    @Linda Tegarden @Bob Hudson "Perhaps he is a boor, a bully and a variety of other things--we cannot legislate personality.  He seems honest to me about the financial aspect of government.  I care about that."

    Your are right, we cannot legislate personality (although the government keeps trying) but responsible voters can make intelligent choices and choose not to vote for the boors, the bullies, the self-centered egotists who cater to the "public interest" only so far as needed in order to gain a position of power. 

    And make no doubt about it, being a city council member or even a House of Representatives member doesn't give you a lot of real power to change the world, but it does give you a perceived sense power among the public and within your elected official's office you have a staff whose one single goal everyday is to figure out and do what is best in for you the officeholder. You pretty much have absolute command over them and they know it. If you ever wanted to be at the center of a cult of personality, then get elected to a office that has a staff.

    Outside the office, of course, you will be fawned over by "supporters" who will overlook the fact you are a bully or sexist pig, or whatever, as long as you and your staff keep convincing them that their favorite issue is your deepest concern.  You, Linda, indicate you're fine with the bullies and boors if they say the right things about finances. Imagine if you and I could get jobs from people who didn't care if we were borderline whackos during the job interview? 

    Yes, you cannot legislate personality, except at the ballot box.

    Linda Tegarden
    Linda Tegarden subscriber

    @Bob Hudson @Linda Tegarden Re-read what I wrote Bob.  I never said any such thing.  " You, Linda, indicate you're fine with the bullies and boors if they say the right things about finances. "

    We do elect people based on personality, gender, color and a whole host of other things that go into image-making.  Not my first election, Bob.  You are lecturing the wrong generation.  If your polemic is in support of the aristocratic and wealthy LaJollan, Scott Peters he's had plenty of time to do more good works than he has so far.  Another failed democrat in my opinion. I would like to give someone else a chance.

    Vi Mooberry
    Vi Mooberry subscriber

    @LoriSaldanaSD @dillonliam @carldemaio  I don't think the Filner lesson has been learned at all.  Cover-up and the good-old-boy message is on the line here and will necessitate a long drawn out response and an action that occurs well after the election.  Voters will, hopefully, exhibit quick action, however on election day!!

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    The Long Con and Set-Up.

    Todd Bosnich made his claims two days before the Primary on June 3, 2014,  a passed a Polygraph on June 14, 2014.

    Why would Todd Bosnich wait until October 9, 2014 the day the mail in ballots are sent to make his accusations public?  Fishy.

    Andy Cohen
    Andy Cohen subscriber

    @La Playa Heritage The answer is he DIDN'T wait.  He recorded the interview with Mike Slater and KFMB back in June, but they canned it (gee, I wonder why?).  CNN started working on this story about a month ago.  They were putting the finishing touches on it over a week ago when they were trying to get comments from the DeMaio camp, who brought in GOP lawyers from DC (and Fox News' Richard Grennel) to deal with it.  But they ended up simply referring it back to the campaign, who became a broken record.  It's right there in the story This isn't something that just came up within the last day.

    Here's the CNN story:

    Bosnich doesn't control when CNN airs the story.  But this has been in the works for a while.