One of the campaign staffers in the late-breaking scandal that helped sink Republican Carl DeMaio's 2014 congressional bid pleaded guilty Friday to an obstruction of justice charge for lying to federal agents about the source of a threatening email that he sent himself.
Todd Bosnich, the fired campaign policy director who in October 2014 accused DeMaio of sexual harassment , agreed to a plea deal with the U.S. attorney's office that will likely land him on probation, rather than prison. Bosnich used a fake email account to send a threatening message to his own personal account, then lied to the FBI about its source, according to court documents obtained by CQ Roll Call. Days before the election, a second former staffer came forward alleging inappropriate conduct by the openly gay former San Diego councilman. Fallout from the sexual harassment allegations ultimately helped derail the GOP's opportunity to pick up the competitive seat. Rep. Scott Peters , D-Calif., defeated DeMaio in the hotly contested race, winning a second term in Congress.
“Todd Bosnich’s lies were incredibly painful, smeared my reputation and derailed our Congressional campaign," DeMaio stated, following the guilty plea. DeMaio also used the opportunity to take a shot at Peters.
"While the criminal prosecution today may hold Bosnich accountable on some level, Congressman Scott Peters shares responsibility for promoting Bosnich’s smears and lies for political gain," he added. DeMaio also thanked law enforcement and "the thousands of supporters who stood by me and saw this disgusting smear for what it was."
"Your faith and support sustained me through this nightmare," he concluded.
Peters' political team responded with criticism of DeMaio.
"Someone came to us alleging sexual harassment by Mr. DeMaio; we took everything to the police and they thanked us for it," spokeswoman Maryanne Pintar said in an email. "Carl was accused by two people from his own operation. He's the one who needs to take some responsibility."
Bosnich was allowed to remain free on a $10,000 bond and was ordered to appear for sentencing on Aug. 31.
Emily Cahn contributed to this report. Related: