The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is investigating allegations involving the top Republican running in a heated race for the 76th District seat.
Deputies are looking into claims that Phil Graham grabbed and forcibly kissed a woman after a long night out.
The San Diego businessman is the stepson of former mayor and retired Governor Pete Wilson and has been endorsed by the San Diego GOP and Supervisor Ron Roberts, among others.
Graham’s campaign strongly denies the allegation.
Niki Burgan told us the incident in question happened Mother's Day weekend. She was at the 1st Street Bar on the Pacific Coast Highway for karaoke night that Sunday.
She says she met Graham at the bar.
Burgan told NBC 7 she didn't know who he was at first, but someone else at the bar mentioned he was in politics and so his race for the State Assembly came up.
That sparked a conversation because Burgan is friends with Graham's competition -- republican Jerome Stocks.
Burgan says she's a Democrat and can't vote in the republican primary.
She says that evening Graham made several passes at her. She denied him repeatedly.
She also claims as the night progressed, Graham continued drinking and at one point grabbed the back of her head, pulled her forward and kissed her. At which point she decided it was time to leave.
Burgan said she had to help Graham calculate the tip on his before she left and as she walked out, he followed her.
“He grabbed me by the shoulders and took my hand and placed it on his crotch and said, ‘You know we're going to end up together’ and I in no uncertain terms told him that I was not interested and to let go of me,” she said.
At that point, the bouncer who was standing outside said, "It's time to go, Mr. Graham,” according to Burgan.
"The allegation is false. This is dirty campaign politics. We will fully cooperate with authorities to put this accusation to rest," said Mike Foster, Graham’s campaign manager.
Deputies confirmed they are investigating an allegation of battery received by the department Sunday at approximately 1:40 p.m. Because the investigation is in its preliminary stages, deputies are not releasing details.
No arrest has been made in the case, deputies said.