In 10 years covering San Diego politics, including the one where Bob Filner was mayor, I have never seen a more bizarre political scandal than the one surrounding Carl DeMaio’s congressional campaign over the last few weeks.
We decided to pull back and lay out everything we know — and don’t — about what has happened.
Here’s how different perspectives on the scandal evolved over time. First, we have to start with a minor media controversy nobody could have imagined we’d still be talking about.
May 12, 2014: The Plagiarized Report
This was a classic DeMaio media play, complete with a villain, eye-popping facts and his preferred typeface.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Let's review....allegations from his peers at City Hall, and now 2 former staff members....to me...that's at least three people that can confirm Carl is very creepy to have around. Sounds like a "Filner" situation and look at all the people that denied there was a problem with that situation. Carl is just a scandal bomb waiting to go off. I just hope it won't be associated with San Diego....remember the history of this district??
Scott, here's an interesting quote from Alison Rentschler, who worked as DeMaio's deputy campaign manager for several weeks this past spring—before leaving to work for the San Diego County Republican Party:
"I worked at the Carl DeMaio campaign as the Deputy Campaign Manager in May 2014 and can confirm Todd was not fired for plagiarism. Carl was very involved with the report and referred to it as his 'baby.' I know Todd, he is an honest and trustworthy person."
Her statement may help you to answer questions IV and V in your article. I admit I already believed DeMaio was the one spouting all the lies. Ms Rentschler's statement should seal the deal for everyone else.
I can't stand DeMaio, his politics, his policies, he is a vindictive, immature person. BUT, a plus to electing him would be the fodder for late night comedians. Can you imagine what John Oliver or Stephen Colbert could do with this guy? It's pure platinum. They will just have to work quick if/when he is elected to get all the bits in before DeMaio is hauled off to prison.
'Like sands through the hourglass so are the Days of our Lives.'
We sure like our drama in this town.
Nice timeline Scott, and very helpful in trying to determine who's lying. Toward that end, let's distill it even more. The timeline begins with Demaio blasting out a " report he said he wrote about members of Congress receiving a pension and a congressional salary." Lie number 1, even at that time, Carl must have known he was just taking credit for someone else's work he just didn't know who it really was. Scoreboard: DeMaio 1 - Bosnich 0. Next Carl says, “I don’t throw my staff under the bus.” Unless he was referring to a single specific bus, we all know that's lie number 2. Scoreboard: DeMaio 2 - Bosnich 0.
Next comes the firing of Todd Bosnich for plagarism, a full week after the plagarism was revealed. DeMaio's people insist he was fired for plagarism, however, Bosnich, says he was fired the day after he confronted Carl about his behavior. We're left to wonder who is telling the truth here; was Todd Bosnich fired for confronting Carl and made the scapegoat for the plagarized report, or was DeMaio's campaign just a little slow to get around to letting him go? So which side seems more believable, Carl DeMaio the self-professed reformer, whose main defense has been "no I didn't," or the long-time republican staffer who sacrificed his career and passed a couple of lie detector tests? Let me answer that question: Scoreboard: DeMaio 3 - Bosnich 0.
Then we have the break in/burglary where Carl and his team really begin to put points up on the scoreboard in an attempt to spin it as a politically motivated event:
"I don’t want to speculate but the San Diego police believe that this is politically motivated." It seems that whenever Carl "doesn't want" to do something sooner or later he does. He's not the spokesperson for the SDPD and while Carl might have believed it was all politically motivated, nobody from the SDPD was saying that to the public that early in their invewstigation. Lie # 4
"Nothing of value was taken" Lie #5 as hundreds of dollars worth of gas cards were taken.
Later, after the allegations of sexual improprieties were made public, Carl countered with "but again, all the evidence that was collected by the police department clearly indicated this individual (Bosnich) was the prime suspect. Again, Carl doesn't speak for the SDPD, and a PD spokesperson had said "“two former staff members were identified by the victim as potential suspects early in the investigation. Both staff members are cooperating with our investigation.” Lie # 6, no evidence, and no prime suspect except in Carl's mind. Scoreboard: DeMaio 6 - Bosnich 0.
Sexual harassment, did it happen or not? Because this, as with most sexual predation, happened in private it is essentially a he said - he said situation. While it's obvious that one of the players is lying, since there's no evidence one way or the other here, it goes up on the scoreboard as a 0 - 0 tie. Scoreboard: DeMaio 6 - Bosnich 0. (That being said, on a personal note I believe the guy who sacrificed his future career and passed two lie detector tests over Carl DeMaio.)
The "Bible." More than four months after the break-in/burglary, and less than a month prior to the election, Carl ambushes Scott Peters with an accusation that Peters had somehow participated in something nefarious by receiving DeMaio's playbook, and worst of all reading it. Peters for his part acknowledged that his campaign received the book three months earlier, and within 24 hours turned it in to the SDPD. This is political theater at it's best/worst. Did Peters and/or his staff read the book? Of course they did. Had the roles been reversed, Carl and his staff would have read Peter's book. On further review though Carl had said nothing of value was taken from his office, and since the playbook was now being described as very valuable Carl scores lie #7 either for his original omission or for suddenly ascribing great value to an item that had previously had none. Additionally, DeMaio's spokesman chimes in with "we just found out about Peters having the book this morning." Are we to believe the police held on to a piece of evidence in a high profile case and Chief Zimmerman, who according to Carl kept him apprised on the investigation, never let DeMaio or his campaign know about it; and since Carl has previously stated he's responsible for what comes out of his campaign, the spokesman's statement becomes lie #8. Scoreboard: DeMaio 8 - Bosnich 0.
Finally in a last minute attempt to make his opponent out to be the bad guy in all this, Carl, his staff, and now joined by Tony Krvaric accuse Peters of pushing the Bosnich story, lie #9, and resorting to a 1950's style homophobic campaign, lie #10. Final score for this series of episodes: DeMaio 10 - Bosnich 0.
Additionally on the periphery, some are worried about the actions of the Chief of Police and the District Attorney. Would it have been better if both had been a bit more transparent regarding the activities of their Departments? Sure. Chief Zimmerman could certainly put to rest some suspicions by opening up about her communications (if any) directly with Carl. However at the end of the day there was not enough physical evidence for a provable prosecution of either allegation.
Finally Scott, don't get too worked up about the use of "alleged" burglary. In this age of attorneys on every street corner, public officials are admonished by their own attorneys to speak in in public only about allegations until such time as a conviction has been won. As far fetched as it seems, there's a slim chance no burglary occurred and the whole thing was orchestrated by the DeMaio campaign. So until thgere's a conviction let's cut our Chief a little slack.
Once again, a great compilation by you and the VOSD. Thanks.
Carl DeMaio took it upon himself to publicly announce as fact what (he alleges) the SDPD "believes" and who are "prime suspects" in its criminal cases. It is glaringly obvious to me that the SDPD, when asked to speak for itself, has said nothing of the sort.
"I don’t want to speculate but the San Diego police believe that this is politically motivated." Carl DeMaio
". . . all the evidence that was collected by the police department clearly indicated this individual (Bosnich) was the prime suspect . . ." Carl DeMaio
Compare those statements with:
“Two former staff members were identified by the victim (Carl DeMaio) as potential suspects early in the investigation. Both staff members are cooperating with our investigation.” Kevin Mayer, SDPD Spokesman
Thank you for this thorough piece. Much needed to inform your readers and well done.
My greatest concern in all this has to do with the Police Chief. The DA is an elected official, but by law the Police Chief is required to be completely apolitical.
There are two possibilities with respect to Mr. DeMaio’s repeated claims that the Police Chief gave him confidential information regarding the pending cases. The first is that he is telling the truth. In that case I would note the following from the San Diego Municipal Code: “It is unlawful for any current or former City Official to use or disclose to any person any confidential information he or she acquired in the course of his or her official duties, except when such disclosure is a necessary function of his or her official duties.” The second is that he is not telling the truth and has been falsely using the Police Chief in an effort to publicly exonerate himself.
The Police Chief’s failure to be forthcoming about this undermines my confidence in her integrity. She should either acknowledge that she did contact him and what she said, or she should state clearly that she did not. There is no middle. Silence, in this instance, is complicity.
In predictable Carl DeMaio fashion, just as victory seems within grasp, he runs smack dab into his old, fierce nemesis - Carl DeMaio. Mr. DeMaio, with the "you-can't-make-this-stuff-up" orphan childhood, vast success in business at a young age and rare political acumen presents a compelling story - that is until you scratch the surface. What one finds below the glossy veneer is a gay man desperate for acceptance in a Republican party that still sports a "hate" plank in its platform.
Those of us in the LGBT community have a duty to question anyone standing for public office for their positions on issues important to us. DeMaio, in what seemed to belie a lack of self-esteem, often stood with those denying LGBT rights more for the shock value and to support his contrarian nature than for any moral attachments to his anti-gay positions (as evidenced by his proclivity to abandon positions when wind directions suggested change.)
The DeMaio campaign is eerily beginning to smell like the Filner debacle. Former allies coming forward to warn the electorate against a candidate. The image of self-coated Teflon pol whose ego won't allow him to see himself accurately. And worst of all, a completely compromised law-enforcement system whose only action has been to circle wagons, avoid investigation and wait it all out.
I would point out that no serious investigation of DeMaio's mis-direction of Prop B campaign funds to his life-partner Jonathan Hale's "web news service" ever took place. More importantly, DeMaio was never charged in the suicide death of Gay and Lesbian TImes publisher Michael Portantino. Portantino, a frequent critic of DeMaio and a legendary LGBT advocate, jumped to his death after DeMaio and Hale systematically destroyed his business, his reputation and ultimately his life. That may not rise to the level of manslaughter in the eyes of DA Bonnie Dumanis or SDPD, but to me it disqualifies Carl DeMaio as a man so hell-bent on winning elections that he does not know right from wrong.
@Jim Abbott Well stated. As a gay person myself, it makes me cringe to think how a Carl DeMaio victory will reflect poorly on our community. DeMaio will get media attention for being the first openly gay Republican member of Congress but it won't be good attention. DeMaio, unfortunately, embodies many of the crude stereo types. As LGBT people grow our presence in political office, we need to make sure we are represented by honest, transparent people, not scandal-ridden drama magnets like DeMaio and his partner.
DeMaio represents one scandal after another, particularly of the unsavory sexual variety. (And friends tell me there's a lot more swirling around him, just waiting to emerge from his murky past.) Lord help us if voters are dumb enough to elect DeMaio, despite his divisive personality, disruptive behavior and so many scandals, the known and the unknown.
Yet Republicans haven't disavowed him, as Dems did Filner. And now DeMaio is poised to make Bob Filner look good. Does San Diego really want to become a laughingstock again?
Ah yes, revisionist history at its finest. I'm not sure what alternate reality you were living in during the Filner debacle but the "due process" crowd stood by Bob well through victims 8, 9, 10, 40018372947. In fact aside from the original three who called him out, most stood by him so long it was disgusting.
It was also very clear with Bob that the Dem establishment knew about his behavior for years (Fink case) and did nothing about it, choosing to tolerate it instead because he was still a champion for the causes. So please don't try to tell people the Dems stood up for the victims.
In the case of DeMaio you have one, I repeat, one accuser who was fired from his staff and an absurd accusation by Mr. Hueso who has demonstrated his moral boundaries are hazy at best time and time again. VOSD can probably tell you his record on Fact Checks lends himself to the huckster propaganda category all too often. Real credible account there.
@Mr. Roboto There were Democrats like Donna Fry who were calling for Filner to resign before we even had a name or face to an accuser.
With DeMaio, not a single Republican has come out to condemn his laundry list of accusations and scandals.
And now there is the "email" scandal being reported today including UT San Diego's website. The fun seems to never end.
Who’s lying? Well, Peters for sure when he claims he never looked at the playbook. And, he would have the public believe someone tossed it over the transom? Come on. When did he get it, how did it arrive and why did DeMaio act as though he’d just found out Peters’ campaign got the book? Lots of questions here, but how does this constitute a scandal? How about “alleged” scandal? After all, this IS a political campaign.
@Bill Bradshaw Even if you took out the sexual harassment allegations, I think the plagiarism, fired staffer, burglary and playbook charges justify "scandal."
@Bill Bradshaw Ha, you actually take this "Bible/playbook" nonsense seriously? As if there was something to gain.
DeMaio only has one play, it's to self destruct and expose himself as a psychopath. Good job Carl.
The women of the law enforcement community leave a lot to be desired. AG Harris declares Dumanis has no conflict because she endorsed DeMaio but of course Harris has endorsed Dumanis. US Attorney Duffy declares a conflict but won't say why and she endorsed DeMaio also. Chief Zimmerman won't say if she called DeMaio and seems to be hiding something. The ladies aren't taking care of business and aren't covering our back.
@dave stutz San Diego is a joke, this is right up there with Jan Goldsmith trying to imprison that guy for his chalk writings.
Who votes for these idiots?
With regard to 'alleged burglary' - my guess would be a burglary could be defined as breaking and entering. By all accounts, the side door was unlocked so there wasn't anything to break in order to enter. The 'walk through the unlocked door method' is probably more accurately defined as a robbery. Semantics could be the cover to use words like 'alleged.'
Thanks Scott for laying this out clearly in chronological order. You are asking the right questions. I do have concerns about the impartiality a of the DA's office, in light of Dumanis' endorsement of DeMaio in 2012, as well as questions about her integrity given her role in the Susumo Azano campaign finance scandal . I am also concerned by the lack of transparency in Chief Zimmerman regarding the phone call to DeMaio. What is she hiding? It is very troubling that local politics have stooped to such a new low.
Please add more information on May 18 and 19, 2014.
May 18, 2014. "Bosnich, who was 28 at the time of the radio interview, said he approached DeMaio on May 18 and told him he needed to quit the race or stop his behavior."
May 19, 2014. " The next day, Bosnich said, the campaign manager called him into his office and told him that DeMaio had lost his trust in him. He also said he was offered him $50,000 to sign a nondisclosure agreement. He said he rejected the offer."
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/10/carl-demaio-sexual-harassment-bribery-claims-111720.html#ixzz3Gp6qwzMt