Hopefully we will never see Tea Party Republican candidate Carl DeMaio ever again considering how deceptive he ran his campaign. He almost won, too, and we thank the Heavens he did not win despite the help by Karl Rove (architect of President George W. Bush's campaign) and the Koch Brothers with their millions.
Zack Brown was a volunteer on Carl DeMaio’s campaign for Congress. Constituents and donors got emails from him. If they responded, they would likely receive an email back bearing Brown’s name.
But Brown did not send them. He says he didn’t even have access to the account that did.
He says he was not the one who sent an anti-Semitic message from the account. Nor did he send one that was graphically homophobic.
To understand DeMaio’s perspective on the allegations of sexual harassment that he believes derailed his campaign, you need to understand the way his campaign used the internet. DeMaio himself admits to some level of anonymous online postings and the use of accounts in other people’s names to get information to the media or public. He and his team also oversaw dozens of deceptive email accounts. These accounts were managed by many people, making it impossible to know whether the person’s whose name was on the email had written the message or even knew what was going out under his or her name.
DeMaio’s system even let unpaid interns ghostwrite messages in the candidate’s name. It let DeMaio ghostwrite messages in other people’s names. And it was a system DeMaio says a former staffer named Todd Bosnich abused. This is at the heart of DeMaio’s view on the scandal.
In DeMaio’s story, you can never actually know when DeMaio is writing you or if it’s someone else pretending to be DeMaio. You also can’t know whether a message you’re receiving from a DeMaio supporter is actually DeMaio in disguise. What’s ironic is this is central to both his and his accuser’s story of what happened. A culture of open sharing of identities went awry.
Both DeMaio and his accuser, Bosnich, claim that emails were sent under their names that were not actually their creations. Based on what I’ve been able to learn about this culture, both of their claims are entirely within the realm of possibility.
DeMaio: The Innovator of Dummies
For years, DeMaio has pushed the limits of online campaigning and messaging. His campaign spokesman acknowledged to me that his team used “about 30″ dummy email accounts.
A dummy email account would be one either under the name of a real person, someone like the well-known local libertarian Richard Rider. Or perhaps it was a pure pseudonym or partial name, like “Liz G.,” who sent an email on Sept. 9 to local environmentalists warning about Rep. Scott Peters’ support from “Big Oil!”
Scroll down on Liz G.’s email, past a long white space, and you’ll find a “Paid for by Carl DeMaio for Congress.”
It’s more than just emails. DeMaio’s team also writes letters and assigns staff to find supporters in the community to put their names on them so they can run as letters to the editor in various newspapers.
And then there are the mass emails. Obviously, personalized fundraising emails are not unique to DeMaio. Just ask anyone on a Democratic email list how many messages they get from Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden or even the president.
But DeMaio has long been on the front end of this innovation and has even reversed it. Rather than subordinates writing pieces in DeMaio’s name, he or his staff would do the opposite ––write messages attributed to subordinates or community members.
DeMaio admitted to me that he sometimes posted on a local blog – SD Rostra – under a pseudonym.
He wouldn’t tell me what the pseudonym was.
Three people close to his previous campaigns say they had to regularly warn DeMaio about posting anonymous comments or emails under fake names recklessly.
This is the system in which Bosnich operated and had some level of responsibility. If you believe DeMaio, then you believe that this guy Bosnich was nothing but an unpaid intern who was allowed to use a glorified title and got one paid assignment that he screwed up and was terminated over.
But you also have to believe that this nobody also was allowed to write messages to the public under DeMaio’s own name.
DeMaio maintains, in fact, that all kinds of people could do that.
And that’s why, he says, so many of the storylines within this scandal boil down to email controversies.
But that’s also why Bosnich’s own claim that anonymous, threatening emails he said he received deserves a hearing. It could also be why emails in his name might not actually be from him. As a rule, many people had regular access to many different campaign email accounts.
There’s more. Bosnich says DeMaio ran this Twitter account called “Truth Sayer” @4SanDiegoNews. It is an anonymous account that lobbed insults at DeMaio’s rivals, including Republican Kirk Jorgensen, one of DeMaio’s opponents in the primary, former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and Peters’ former staffer Lucas O’Connor.
The Twitter feed’s last message, sent June 16, was an insult directed at former conservative radio host Steve Yuhas, who regularly battles DeMaio and his partner, Johnathan Hale, online.
“The campaign does not know who runs that feed,” wrote DeMaio spokesman Dave McCulloch in response to a list of questions I had. MORE>>>