DeMaio is a California Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 6:40 p.m. | In one of the hottest House races in the country, a top Republican recruit has become mired in a dispute over sexual harassment allegations, presenting the GOP with a high-profile distraction in one of its best pickup opportunities.
Former San Diego Councilmember Carl DeMaio is a Republican running against freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in a San Diego-based district. One of DeMaio’s former staffers, Todd Bosnich, sat down for an interview with CNN in which he described in vivid detail his harassment allegations. DeMaio has denied Bosnich’s allegations.
“I came over to his office, door was open. And he was masturbating,” Bosnich told CNN in an interview that aired Friday. “I saw his hand, his penis in his hand and he had a smile on his face. And as soon as I came over, he was looking at me.”
CNN’s Chris Frates confronted DeMaio, who reportedly offered to provide evidence to refute the former aide’s allegations. But the reporter said DeMaio only offered to share the documents if CNN did not report on the situation, and “on its own, the material did not appear to refute Bosnich’s claims.” At one point, CNN was contacted by Washington attorney Ben Ginsberg. After requesting more time, he eventually directed the reporter back to the campaign manager.
Bosnich also told CNN that after he confronted DeMaio about the alleged harassment, he was let go from the campaign and offered $50,000 to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
National Republicans are standing by their candidate.
“We fully support Carl DeMaio and we don’t make decisions based on unsubstantiated claims,” said Andrea Bozek, communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
But the allegations surfaced just as vote by mail ballots were sent to thousands of voters in the district. And if the dust-up gains traction, DeMaio could see the ground shift from underneath him. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Full story