Carl DeMaio, an openly gay Republican House candidate vying to unseat Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), hit back at sexual harassment allegations in a recent interview, charging that the opposing campaign is "actively promoting" the incident with just over two weeks to Election Day.
DeMaio was charged with sexual harassment by former staffer Todd Bosnich earlier in October. Bosnich, who was fired from the campaign earlier this year, described DeMaio's unwanted advances in a June radio interview that never aired, but was obtained by Politico. The Republican candidate pitted the frenzy on his sexuality in a Saturday interview with The Hill.
“I guess you can say anything about the gay guy and some people will believe it,” DeMaio said.
The Republican candidate accused Peters' team of "actively promoting" the harassment allegations, chastising it for resorting to a smear campaign.
"I think that when we learned this week that Scott Peters' campaign was actively promoting this smear to reporters and making other claims that were outrageous, despicable, disgraceful, unethical -- it simply confirmed for me the lengths that this man would go and the lack of judgment that [Peters] possesses to simply hang onto a political seat in Congress," DeMaio told The Hill.
"I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to realize, in the last 20 days of a campaign, this is a smear," he added.
In describing the incident, Bosnich said the Republican candidate invited him into his office, where the former staffer says DeMaio was masturbating. The candidate faced similar charges last year when he was accused of masturbating in a San Diego City Hall bathroom in 2009.
DeMaio agreed to take a polygraph test, which he passed, after the first accusation. However, during a candidate forum in San Diego on Friday, he seemed reluctant to take a second lie detector test after the revelation of the latest charges. Peters told The Hill he found it "interesting" that DeMaio wouldn't willingly volunteer for another polygraph.
"I mean, voters have to draw their own conclusions about that," Peters said. "But again, I have to focus on knocking on these doors and making these phone calls."
Read more at The Hill.
DeMaio pointed to his sexuality in a 30-second television ad that first aired only days before the harassment allegations went public. Featuring images of the candidate and his partner, the ad aimed to refute claims that DeMaio is a far-right candidate.
"As a proud gay American, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life," DeMaio said in the ad. "But a tea party extremist? Nothing could be further from the truth."
The race to represent California's 52nd District in the U.S. House has been tight in the weeks leading up to Election Day. According to HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates all publicly available polling data, DeMaio carries a slight lead over Peters: