Today, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that political marketing consultant Ken Moser was fined $10,000,000 by the Federal Communications Commission for his role in the the 2018 76th Assembly District Primary Election.
“A San Diego-based telemarketer was fined nearly $10 million on Wednesday for making tens of thousands of spoofed robocalls in 2018 in a California Assembly race, the Federal Communications Commission announced.
“The FCC said Kenneth Moser and his company, Marketing Support Systems, sent out 47,610 unlawful robocalls on May 30 and May 31, 2018, about a week before a primary election for the 76th Assembly District.”
In 2018, five Republican candidates filed to run for the open Assembly seat against two Democrats but Phil Graham was the only candidate endorsed by the Republican Party of San Diego County. A false harassment allegation was levied against Graham by a Nichole Burgan, woman associated with former Encinitas Mayor (and primary opponent) Jerome Stocks. Burgan later admitted to making up the story after an investigation by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office proved Graham’s innocence. She eventually pled guilty to filing a false police report and was sentenced for her crime.
No Republican advanced in that election as the multiple Republican candidates split the center-right vote. Two Democrats advanced to the General Election and Tasha Boerner Horvath eventually won that Assembly seat, an Assembly seat which was held by a Republican for over 24 years.
Graham raised over $600,000 for the campaign, more than five times the sum total of all of the other Republican candidates combined. Graham had a healthy war chest and endorsements from the county Republican Party, New Majority, Oceanside Police Officer’s Association, (then) House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Congressman Darrell Issa, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, retired State Senator Mark Wyland, retired Assembly Minority Leader Martin Garrick, (then) State Senator Joel Anderson, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, County Treasurer Dan McAllister, and conservative radio show host and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio. Graham looked to be a shoo-in to advance to the November General Election.
The pre-election surprise was the false allegation from Nichole Burgan. Fortunately, the San Diego Sheriff’s Office proved that Burgan was lying prior to Election Day but that didn’t stop Graham’s Republican opponents from trying to undo his advantage; Maureen “Mo” Muir started a whisper campaign, through surrogates, to try to rescind Graham’s endorsement from the Republican Party. Meanwhile, labor unions trafficked direct mail pieces about Burgan’s false claim and ran Facebook ads to discredit Graham. It looked like the Democratic-Labor Complex had successfully executed a hit job on Graham.
This past summer, The Voice of San Diego published an exposé about the FCC investigation into Ken Moser. In that investigation, Moser named Encinitas Council Member Mark Muir, husband of Graham’s Republican opponent Mo Muir, as the source of the the content for the robocall campaign against Graham. I questioned any and all people associated with the Muir campaign, here on San Diego Rostra, about the veracity of Moser’s accusation. Every single person I questioned denied knowledge or involvement with the libelous robo-call scam except Mark Muir.
Mark Muir danced around the question, first claiming that the robo-call campaign was not libelous. Then, Muir rationalized the campaign before thrice avoiding the question about whether Moser was lying about him being the source of the content. Muir knew better than to deny Moser’s claim because Moser provided the media with the email with the audio file, sent from Mark Muir.
Meanwhile, Tasha Boehner-Horvath was re-elected to the Assembly earlier this month. Republican-endorsed candidate, Melanie Burkholder, had a difficult time raising money against an already entrenched incumbent. Nobody challenged Burkholder for the Republican nomination.
The Republican Party of San Diego County has consistently been losing ground in the past decade; San Diego Rostra colleague Barry Jantz described its situation as a “buzzkill” just two weeks ago. If the County Republican Party is going to make any headway in future races, it’s going to have to adopt a more targeted endorsement approach with consequences for candidates who challenge RPSDC-endorsed candidates. More importantly, future RPSDC leaders are going to have to call out the bad actors like Mark Muir, and refuse him or his cronies (not limited to but including his wife) from participation in future endorsements.
Mark Muir lied to benefit his wife. His lies cost his consultant, Ken Moser, a $10,000,000 fine and the North County voters a Republican Assemblyman. He should be condemned by all good people for his dishonorable conduct. I will be the first to do that right here.