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Politics

What People Are Saying About Sexual Harassment Allegations Against DeMaio

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Allegations that a Republican congressional candidate from San Diego sexually harassed a former staffer gained national attention Friday when CNN aired an interview with the accuser on one of its political programs.

On "The Lead with Jake Tapper," Todd Bosnich claimed he was sexually harassed by former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, a candidate in the 52nd Congressional District.

DeMaio told the network that Bosnich is a disgruntled former employee who is using the claims as a cover story. DeMaio also has accused Bosnich of breaking into the candidate's campaign headquarters earlier this year. No arrests have been made in the incident.

The national attention led the former head of the San Diego County Democratic Party to organize protest Saturday morning at a Pacific Beach fundraiser for DeMaio where the featured guest is House Speaker John Boehner.

DeMaio is challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in one of the hottest match-ups for this mid-term election in November. A poll this week by 10News and U-T San Diego showed DeMaio had a three percentage point lead over Peters — a statistical tie based on the margin of error.

The two campaigns have raised millions of dollars. The race has also attracted more than $3.5 million in outside spending, not including money spent on non-candidate issue ads.

In Friday's CNN report, Bosnich said he joined DeMaio's team last year because he shared the politician's values.

According to CNN:

But Bosnich said his enthusiasm for his boss was soon replaced by dread, because DeMaio would find him alone and make inappropriate advances, massaging and kissing his neck and groping him.

One morning last April, Bosnich said he arrived early at campaign headquarters and DeMaio called him back to his office.
Bosnich claims that shortly after the incident in April, he was let go from the campaign and offered $50,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement. He told CNN that he didn't sign any documents.

The sexual harassment allegations surfaced this week when a Los Angeles Times reporter asked DeMaio, who has campaigned as an openly gay Republican, about the claims at a Wednesday news conference. DeMaio had called the news conference to refute political claims from his challenger's ads but ended up defending himself against the allegations.

The Los Angeles Times did not publish a story, but according to U-T San Diego, DeMaio said the claim is an "outrageous lie."

DeMaio further denied the allegations in the CNN report.

From CNN:

"This is an individual that was let go by our campaign manager for plagiarism. A well-documented plagiarism incident of taking a report from the National Journal and passing it off as his own work," DeMaio said. "He was terminated. He admitted that he plagiarized. He apologized for plagiarizing and when we told him he was no longer welcome in the staff and in the campaign office, even as a volunteer, he left. Days later, he broke in."

When CNN asked Bosnich if he burglarized DeMaio's headquarters, he said: "No, I did not." He also denied he was behind the plagiarizing of a National Journal story for a DeMaio campaign report on government pensions.

Jess Durfee, the former head of the county Democratic Party, sent an email to the news media Friday night announcing the protest outside the DeMaio fundraiser with Boehner. He also touted the protest on Twitter.

Durfee also sent a letter to Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris Friday asking her to take over the investigation of Bosnich's sexual harassment claims.

The San Diego police investigated the allegations and turned over their findings to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis' office for review.

Durfee says Dumanis, a Republican, has a conflict of interest because she endorsed DeMaio in his unsuccessful mayoral campaign against Bob Filner. DeMaio also held a fundraiser for Dumanis when she ran for re-election.

It's worth noting that the San Diego police also investigated the break-in at DeMaio's campaign headquarters. That case was turned over to the District Attorney's Office for review, too.

Both cases are pending with Dumanis' office.