Carl DeMaio has had a rough month, and things don’t seem to be looking up.
DeMaio is an openly gay Republican House candidate running in Southern California, and his campaign reeled on Oct. 10 when CNN broke the news of a former staffer accusing him of sexual misconduct. Todd Bosnich, former policy director for DeMaio’s campaign, told CNN that back in April, when he was still on the campaign, the candidate called him into his office. Then, Bosnich said, this happened:
I came over to his office, door was open. And he was masturbating. 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.
On Sunday, another former staffer came forward with a similar charge. Justin Harper, a former regional political director for the campaign, told KPBS that when he was still employed for the campaign he had a jarring encounter with DeMaio in a bathroom.
“I was at the urinal, and (DeMaio) came from the stall that was closest to the urinal and was kind of just standing there hovering,” Harper told KPBS. “I turned around and realized that it was Carl. He had his pants up, but his fly was undone, and he had his hand over, not over, grasping his genitals.”
Previously, per CNN, one of DeMaio’s old city council colleagues said he twice caught him masturbating in the city hall bathroom. (DeMaio served on the San Diego city council from 2008 to 2012).
The DeMaio campaign has vehemently denied all of these allegations.
Sexual misconduct questions aren’t the only issues that have dogged his campaign. One leaked email showed his campaign manager telling staff to “red flag” any black event attendees as likely Democratic trackers. The campaign manager apologized after a group of black conservatives called for his firing. In another leaked email, first reported by San Diego City Beat, DeMaio mocked one of his Democratic opponent’s female staffers with a picture of an obese woman in a bra eating what appeared to be a chicken nugget.
Despite the barrage of PR crises, DeMaio has had strong support from national Republicans. House Speaker John Boehner traveled to California to campaign for him, and the National Republican Congressional Campaign has stood steadfastly by his campaign.
The race is incredibly close. If DeMaio wins, he could be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. (Richard Tisei, another Republican running for a House seat from Massachusetts, is also openly gay.)