Former San Diego City Councilmember and candidate for U.S. Congress Carl DeMaio called allegations of him masturbating in a City Hall restroom “disgusting, humiliating and nothing more than a character assassination attempt.”
DeMaio addressed a recent published report that accused him of the conduct in 2009 and attributed the information to former City Councilmember Ben Hueso, who currently serves as a state senator.
Here is what DeMaio said in an interview with NBC 7's Gene Cubbison regarding the article published Friday in “Voice of Orange County."
When asked to address the report, Demaio responded:
"A lie was told. A lie that is disgusting, humiliating and nothing more than a character assassination attempt and I’m not going to let that stand.
I’m speaking out because I have the truth on my side.
In politics, you see people make accusations all the time. And, you know, I’ve had people criticize me before and I usually let it roll off my back.
My focus has always been to have a positive message, talk about solutions for San Diego and not worry and not sweat the small stuff, the criticism, the attacks, the personal attacks.
But this one crosses the line. It’s so gross. It’s so false, that I have to speak out. I have to present the truth.
It’s not only damaging to me and my reputation. But this lie also continues the embarrassment that we’ve just suffered as a city.
And when I saw people Tweeting this lie and spreading it and people responding saying 'well there goes San Diego politics again.'
I’m not going to allow a lie to bring shame on our city.
I’m going to step up and speak the truth.
And the people who have manufactured this lie ought to be ashamed of themselves not just for the damage they tried to do to my reputation but for the embarrassment they’re trying to bring on San Diego."
When asked if he would like to see his accusers take a polygraph, DeMaio responded:
"I don’t know what to say to Ben Hueso besides you know this is a lie. You’ve done great damage not only to me but to our city and you ought to come forward and tell the truth.
No matter what vehicle he wants to use, he needs to step forward and tell the truth.
I can’t control the lies that Ben Hueso says and this one is a gross lie, hands down a fabrication and he knows it.
But what I can do is speak out and present the truth.
It’s hard because Ben and the people that put Ben up to doing this know that a lie told enough times becomes the truth.
How do you respond to a vicious rumor? How do you put it to rest?
I’ve chosen to step forward with the only thing I know to do to put it to rest which is to speak out forcefully and to take a polygraph.
My advisors said, ‘Don’t take a polygraph. You’re just feeding the story.’
I said, ‘Look my reputation is on the line. San Diego does not need this sort of embarrassing ordeal because organized labor wants to engage in dirty politics.’
San Diegans deserve a fresh start. They deserve a healing period. This lie, this lie is only an attempt to rob us of that healing period that this city desperately needs."
When asked who he believes is behind spreading the rumor, DeMaio responded:
"Look, the reality is there are a number of opponents who basically put Bob Filner into office.
These are people who covered up the truth about Bob Filner, put him into office and as a result our city suffered much pain and embarrassment.
And now, not only did they cover up the truth about Bob Filner and cause pain for San Diego. Now they’re willing to take an extraordinary step of manufacturing a lie that may result in even the same level of embarrassment.
Our city needs healing. It doesn’t need dirty politics fueled by outright lies and that’s what this is.
It’s very clear that this is a dirty lie that has been spread and advanced by organized labor. These are the same groups that put Bob Filner into office and covered up the truth about Bob Filner and now they’re showing they are capable to advance a lie and put our city through an embarrassing episode.
This is something that’s not just about me. I’m speaking out because it’s also potentially embarrassing for San Diego and that’s not right. I’m not going to let that happen.
I think with enough investigation the people who stand to benefit from this lie coming out suddenly as a new mayoral campaign might start, I don’t think it takes much research, much digging to find out who is really behind these tactics, these lies.
These tactics are the same tactics we saw in the 2012 mayor’s race. They didn’t have a vision for San Diego. They didn’t have ideas to run on. And so they ran on dirty politics. They tried every way, shape or form to make our election about accusations, nasty attacks, distortions, rather than ideas for moving San Diego forward.
We see that evidence time and time again.
This was a lie in October when they first tried to get it published and local papers in San Diego saw it for being a lie and dismissed it.
And now, conveniently the timing, of bringing this out right as a new mayoral race starts. It’s very clear what this is – dirty politics, character assassination and an attempt to bring San Diego back into the dark days that we’re trying to get out of; of embarrassment, of scandal where the people’s business isn’t being focused on but rather tawdry personal accusations that are not true."
When asked why he decided to come forward about the allegations, DeMaio responded:
"Integrity means a lot to me. It’s the most important thing to me.
And I cannot allow this lie to go out there without a firm rebuttal and answer. I have truth on my side and I will not allow these forces, Ben Hueso and organized labor, the same people who put Bob Filner into office to practice this form of dirty politics. The damage is going to be done to me but I don’t want the damage to be done for San Diego.
So I’m speaking out even though I know this, uh, I’m in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.
I guess that’s the brilliance of what Mr. Hueso is doing. That’s the brilliance in what organized labor is doing.
By manufacturing a lie, I either get stuck with it. Or if I respond, then that means all the media gets to go and run the lie and then, of course, my response. I’m in a no-win situation.
So, in my gut, in my heart, I’m going with the truth which is the only response I can have to this lie, no matter what the consequence is, to step forward and unequivocally present the facts. The facts I believe exonerate me.
I took a polygraph test. Passed it. What else am I supposed to do?
I think any San Diegan out there if they just look at the facts and recognize what’s at stake and who is doing this, my hope is that they will also conclude that this is a lie and we ought not reward them by letting them get by with this.
San Diegans deserve a discussion about the issues and we will either allow campaigns to continue to get derailed by dirty politics like this. Or as San Diegans we’re going to say enough is enough. We will not have these lies. We will not reward the liars. And we expect better. We expect a discussion about the issues and the future of our city not dirty politics.
San Diegans have an opportunity to repudiate this and that’s why I’m speaking out."