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Rep. Scott Peters Talks Plans For Upcoming Congressional Term

Photo caption: Democratic Rep. Scott Peters talks to supporters election night, when returns...

Photo credit: Milan Kovacevic

Democratic Rep. Scott Peters talks to supporters election night, when returns showed he was in a tight race with Republican challenger Carl DeMaio, Nov. 4, 2014.

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Democratic Congressman Scott Peters narrowly won re-election in November, beating Republican Carl DeMaio in a close race that included a lot of negative campaigning from both sides.

In the final weeks of the election, Todd Bosnich and Justin Harper, two former DeMaio staffers, accused DeMaio of sexual harassment. DeMaio denied their allegations.

After the election, new details were reported about Bosnich's involvement with the Peters campaign. But Peters and his campaign staff repeatedly refused to answer questions about Bosnich, citing an ongoing FBI investigation.

Peters told KPBS Evening Edition on Monday that he was not interviewed by the FBI. He said his campaign manager, MaryAnne Pintar, was interviewed by San Diego Police Department sex crime detectives, and "we understand they shared that information with the FBI."

Peters told KPBS Midday Edition that the FBI investigation "was reported in the media, so we thought it was true." He added that DeMaio never disputed the fact that there was an investigation.

DeMaio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Peters said his campaign knew about Bosnich and his allegations in June but did not use that information against DeMaio. He said they instead turned it over to police.

"(Pintar) was contacted by this person and was concerned for his personal (well) being. She thought, 'Is he going to do something harmful to himself?'" Peters said. "We spoke to each other and then the next day called the police chief, turned it over to the police, because that's the right thing to do. That's what citizens should do when they hear about these kinds of victimization allegations."

He later added, "When someone comes to you with these allegations, we hear a lot about women who are afraid to bring these allegations forward, I don't think you should treat men any differently if you hear the same kind of thing."

Peters said police thanked the campaign for their cooperation. He said he doesn't view Pintar's meeting with Bosnich as working with him.

"Two people made serious charges against Mr. DeMaio that we had nothing to do with," Peters said. "It wasn't us making those charges. He needs to answer for those charges, not us."

Over the weekend, Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending package to fund the government through the fiscal year. Peters voted for the bill and said he disagrees with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts that it strips protections against risky banking practices.

"It allows banks to hold on to some instruments that really help their customers in agriculture and manufacturing guard against risks in the market, and we thought it was appropriate to give them that flexibility," he said. "A lot of Democrats agree with me. It did relax the rules, but it doesn't change the prohibitions against bailouts, it doesn't change the fact that those very risky instruments still have to be pushed out under the old rule."

Peters said he voted for the budget because it includes funding for San Diego's border crossing with Mexico, a pay raise for troops, a slight increase in money for the National Institutes of Health and funding to allow Veterans Affairs to reduce wait times.

He also said the legislation avoids a government shutdown.

One of the major issues in the coming year will be immigration reform. Peters said he supports the immigration reform passed by the Senate, and said he believes that it could have passed the House, but Speaker John Boehner of Ohio never called a vote on it.

Peters recently voted against the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014. He told KPBS Midday that's because he doesn't think it was actually a drought relief bill, but instead was "directed toward helping a particular set of interests in Central Valley."

He said he instead wants to ensure the federal government is on board with water recycling programs and will invest in water storage systems.

Although Democrats are now the minority in both houses of Congress, Peters said he thinks avoiding gridlock is possible because it's happened with San Diego's congressional delegation of three Democrats and two Republicans.

"The working relationship has never been this good," he said. "We need to spread that out through the Congress. With the right attitude, I think we can do that."

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