Word that the FBI has entered the case of Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio versus a talkative former staffer, as reported by NBC affiliate KNSD here, may mean an interesting post-election period for both GOP district attorney Bonnie Dumanis and her longtime backer, U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester.
The political operations of the pair could face a fresh public airing, leading to yet more questions about who controls San Diego County prosecutors and Manchester-related media.
"Anonymous emails, sent to the former staffer who accused Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio of sexual harassment, are the subject of FBI agent interviews with potential witnesses," according to the TV station's report, which came the same day as Dumanis announced she wouldn't pursue the accusations made by ex-DeMaio campaign staffer Todd Bosnich.
Nor, said the D.A., would she take any action in the matter of the pre-primary break-in at DeMaio headquarters in May. DeMaio had fingered Bosnich as the culprit, which he has denied.
"The San Diego Police Department’s investigations of these matters have been very thorough, objective and professional. SDPD committed significant resources to the investigations and no stone was left unturned,” said a Dumanis statement.
Added a statement attributed to San Diego police chief Shelley Zimmerman: "Both the alleged burglary to Carl DeMaio’s campaign office and the allegations of sexual misconduct against Carl DeMaio were taken seriously and investigated thoroughly by the San Diego Police Department."
Sidestepping the sex-tinged dust-up between DeMaio — the ex-city councilman whose alleged city-hall bathroom masturbation incident became a cause celebre last year — and his outspoken ex-campaign aide may be the politically smart thing for both Dumanis, and short-timer police honcho Zimmerman to do.
But the convenient closing of the DeMaio case could leave an uncomfortable legal legacy for both high-profile women.
Re-elected in June over lawyer Bob Brewer — widely viewed by political professionals as waging a lackluster campaign orchestrated by ex–Bob Filner political guru Tom Shepard — Dumanis faces the possibility of new details emerging from the federal case against José Susumo Azano Matsura.
He is the Mexican national accused of laundering money to benefit both the district attorney's 2012 campaign for San Diego mayor as well as Filner's mayoral run.
Dumanis has denied playing any criminal role in the matter, but Azano's trial, as well as the sentencing of La Jolla luxury car dealer Marc Chase, who has pled guilty to money laundering for the Mexican, remain pending.
Originally scheduled for November 13, Chase's sentencing date has been continued until April 7 of next year, according to an August 5 court document.
Ex–San Diego cop Ernie Encinas, another figure in the case, has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, with the courtroom fate of two other defendants, campaign guru Ravneet Singh and strip-club lobbyist Marco Polo Cortes, still hanging in the balance.
If any of the Azano case defendants decide to offer further information regarding Dumanis and the dark side of the San Diego Police Department — among a host of other tales of criminal intrigue currently making the rounds of the political grapevine — both the district attorney and the police chief may find themselves in more than a little hot water.
Meanwhile, Manchester's U-T San Diego appears of late to have gone cold on the Azano case, having the effect of keeping the Dumanis relationship with Azano out of the public eye during the run-up to next month's key congressional election, as well as taking her reflected heat off Manchester-backed DeMaio.
The newspaper's most recent mention of the money-laundering charges, which ran August 29 according to the paper's website, featured an interview with Democratic congressman Juan Vargas, another alleged political beneficiary of Azano, who denied any knowledge of criminality.
Though unreported, the Azano case has been busy in the weeks since.
The most recent action, an October 20 motion by Azano's attorneys, seeks to discover why U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, yet another powerful woman in San Diego law enforcement, has left the prosecution to a deputy.
"Although the United States Attorney has recused herself, she has not disclosed the reason(s) for the recusal and her office continues to prosecute this case….
"That is cold comfort for Mr. Azano, who is naturally concerned that the U.S. Attorney’s conflict may extend to her employees," the brief continues. "She is, after all, the 'boss' of every lawyer in that office."
As previously reported here, Manchester and his political allies — including wealthy KFMB station owner Elisabeth Kimmel, who has been linked to the billionaire Koch brothers — have financially backed DeMaio's political career, raising persistent questions about how each run their news and opinion operations.
During his spring primary race against DeMaio, backers of fellow GOP candidate Kirk Jorgensen charged that KFMB talk-show host Roger Hedgecock was using his show on the station to conduct "blatant campaigning" and fundraising for DeMaio, shutting Jorgensen off the air. Kimmel did not respond to requests for comment.
More recently, political observers have pointed out that KFMB's Mike Slater did a taped interview with DeMaio accuser Bosnich that never aired.
“We asked him for some further proof [and] until he’s able to give some it’s not appropriate to air his story on the radio,” Slater told the Voice of San Diego.