Nov. 12 2014 10:53 AM

Everybody just calm down

Scott Peters
Photo by David Rolland

Possessing more than passable understanding of elementary arithmetic, Carl DeMaio on Sunday decided it was finally necessary for him to concede failure in his aggressive attempt to unseat Rep. Scott Peters. So, in what must have been a chilly chat, he called Peters to congratulate him. Soon after, he hightailed it over to his favorite local station, KUSI, to play the role of the victim on TV.

DeMaio attributed his loss to 11th-hour “false smears” perpetuated by the Peters campaign and said Peters needs to answer for new information that’s come to light since the election.

Playing the victim is nothing new for the thin-skinned DeMaio, and neither is his knack for spinning a narrative to his advantage. First, we don’t know why for certain Peters got upwards of 5,000 more votes than DeMaio. One opinion comes from elections analyst Vince Vasquez, who’s hardly a raging liberal. In the first of a series of tweets on Sunday, Vasquez said, “Peters won a clear and decisive victory. To say DeMaio lost due to the allegations or the media is sour grapes. No place for revisionism.” He added: “Voter opinions are shaped, hardened way before voting begins. Few wait until EDay to ask “what are we voting on?” 

Meanwhile, all DeMaio had to do is hand the ball to KUSI’s Steve Bosh for Bosh to run reckless with pro-DeMaio rhetoric masquerading as factual reporting. The basis for the KUSI segment was an affidavit for a police search warrant— related to a May break-in at DeMaio campaign headquarters—that a judge unsealed last Friday at the request of NBC 7 and U-T San Diego. News stories about the documents fueled minor outbreaks of hysteria on social media, with DeMaio supporters ranting about another Watergate and “political espionage.” Let’s clear some things up:

1. Did the Peters campaign coordinate with Todd Bosnich? According to the affidavit, Bosnich, a former DeMaio staffer, emailed MaryAnne Pintar, Peters’ campaign manager, on May 29, telling her that DeMaio had sexually harassed him and giving her some internal campaign intelligence. Pintar forwarded the emails to the police two days later and then agreed to Bosnich’s request to meet in person. During a June 5 meeting, Bosnich handed Pintar an envelope containing proofs of some direct-mail pieces supporting DeMaio and criticizing Peters, as well as a CD copy of an interview that Bosnich did three days earlier with KFMB radio host Mike Slater that never aired. The interview detailed the sexual-harassment claims. She made copies of the mail pieces and gave the originals to Peters before she left for a vacation. She told police about the items several days later, and the police picked up the materials on June 11.

Does this qualify as coordination? Details in the affidavit support Pintar’s claim that she was initially concerned about Bosnich’s welfare. And any campaign manager worth her salt would’ve met with Bosnich and made the best possible use of the information he provided. Campaigns are war. Don’t even begin to say DeMaio wouldn’t have done the same thing. We’ll just laugh at you.

2. Did Peters take possession of a “black binder” / “playbook” / campaign “bible”? No. DeMaio reported that a binder full of campaign strategy had gone missing in the break-in. There’s no evidence that Peters or Pintar ever had it. Again, all they had was some direct-mail pieces.

3. Did Peters lie? Well, he at least misspoke in mid-October on NBC 7’s Politically Speaking show when he appeared to say that he turned the DeMaio campaign information over within 24 hours. Peters says he was referring to the emailed information that Bosnich sent to Pintar, but that was forwarded after 48 hours, not 24. On Politically Speaking, it’s obvious that DeMaio was talking about physical materials, but he erroneously suggested Peters had a “playbook” that contained direct mail. The mail pieces were picked up by police six days after Pintar received them. Y’all can decide for yourselves how egregious this stuff is.

4. Did Peters drag DeMaio through the mud at the last minute? That’s DeMaio’s spin, and KUSI and the U-T repeated it as fact without challenge. But there’s no evidence that Peters had anything to so with Bosnich’s allegations or “promoted” them, as the U-T said this week. Was Peters happy about DeMaio getting dragged through the mud? Absolutely.

It’s understandable that DeMaio and his friends needed something to lash out at after a bitter defeat. But as it relates to Peters, the evidence, so far at least, doesn’t match the fervor. We don’t have the space here to get into what the documents do and don’t say about Bosnich. Maybe next week.

Correction: The original version of this editorial said that Pintar told police that same day that Bosnich had given her the direct-mail pieces and the Slater interview. That was what the affidavit said, but Pintar says it's inaccurate.

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