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Another San Diego Politician in Hot Water for Sexual Harassment (Part 3)

In the conclusion of this article, we take a look at the efforts of reporters to uncover the truth behind the allegations of Todd Bosnich regarding the alleged sexual harassment of Carl DeMaio, and Carl Demaio’s allegations that Todd Bosnich was merely a disgruntled employee who’d been caught plagiarizing and then broke into DeMaio’s campaign headquarters after being fired. We will also discuss the previous allegations of sexual misconduct that surfaced when DeMaio was a member of the San Diego city council.

The Investigation

So CNN decided to try to dig a little deeper into the allegations against DeMaio, after talking to him on camera. According to a CNN report, after repeated attempts to get answers from the campaign, CNN officials participated in a conference call, which they were led to believe would be an opportunity to ask questions. Instead, the call was led by hired consultant Richard Grenell, a former Mitt Romney presidential campaign spokesperson and Fox News contributor. Grenell refused to answer questions and accused CNN of being on a partisan witch hunt.

The next day, CNN sent the campaign a detailed list of questions, including whether the campaign manager knew about Bosnich’s complaints. CNN was then contacted by high-powered Washington attorney Ben Ginsberg, who counseled both the Romney and George W. Bush presidential campaigns. Ginsberg said he would be handling CNN’s questions. Ginsberg asked for more time and information before responding.

CNN’s attorney granted Ginsberg more time and sent a second letter laying out the information that prompted the inquiries. Ginsberg then responded to CNN by saying its reporters needed to contact the campaign manager. Back to square one.

Nine days after seeking answers to our follow-up questions, the campaign manager, Knepper, sent a statement that was almost exactly what DeMaio said when we first asked him about the allegation weeks ago.

“These allegations are completely false. The individual making the claims was fired from the campaign months ago for plagiarism,” Knepper said. “The individual only made these false allegations after the San Diego Police Department started investigating him as the suspect for the campaign office break-in.”

Previous Allegations

But this is not the first time DeMaio has found himself accused of sexually inappropriate behavior. CNN discovered that last year, a fellow city councilman, Ben Hueso, said he twice caught DeMaio masturbating in a semi-private city hall restroom accessible only to city officials.

The Democrat declined an interview request, but councilwoman Marti Emerald said she learned about the 2009 incident immediately after Hueso witnessed it. On the way to the women’s room, she said she literally bumped into Huseo as he exited the men’s room across the hall.

“He was furious; he looked like something serious had just happened,” Emerald said. “He said DeMaio was in there (masturbating). And I said do you want to grab a police officer and have him arrested? Because this is a violation of the (city) code. He said no, but he was pretty upset.”

It’s a claim DeMaio denied – even saying he took a polygraph test to support his denial, but he declined to provide the results to CNN.

“This lie crossed the line. It’s so gross. It’s so untrue. It’s so humiliating that it demands a response,” DeMaio said last year.

Bosnich also took an independent lie detector test to support his allegations, a copy of which Bosnich’s attorney provided to CNN. The report said Bosnich’s answers were “truthful” and found “no deception.”

“It corroborated my account of being sexually harassed by Carl DeMaio,” Bosnich said.

Bosnich also denied that he was the one who plagiarized from National Journal.

“Carl authored the report. And I offered input on it. But in terms of the final draft, in terms of the, even the composition of it, that was from Carl, as he admitted to the National Journal,” he said.

At the time, DeMaio told National Journal that while his staff produced the report at his direction, he didn’t know how much had been lifted. But he took full responsibility and told the Beltway publication, “I don’t throw my staff under the bus.”

There must be something in the water…

San Diego has also faced sexual harassment charges in the city’s top spot, as we recently discussed in the case of former Mayor Bob Filner. In that case the Mayor was accused by more than 15 women, including staffers, volunteers, interns and members of the public of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. Those allegations and the cases brought against him in court caused him to step down as Mayor.

Ironically, DeMaio lost to Filner in the 2012 mayor’s race and tried to make Filner’s behavior an issue during a debate.

“You need a mayor who respects women. You need a mayor who sets that tone,” he said then. “And you need a mayor who is willing to insist on zero tolerance when it comes to the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace and in any other environment.”

We will see whether DeMaio’s opponent in the upcoming congressional race against Rep. Scott Peters will use the same tactics against DeMaio. Though Scott is by all political pundit accounts a vulnerable first-term Democrat, this may give him the ammunition to take down DeMaio for good.