Last Friday, Jesse Marx at Voice of San Diego published a detailed (and well-documented) article about how Phil Graham’s 2018 Assembly campaign was derailed by an independent expenditure committee’s libelous robo-calls. In that article, Kenneth Moser, owner of Marketing Support Systems (MSS), disclosed his response to the FCC. On page 4 of that response, Moser said:
“MSS was referred and introduced to a new client who wanted to do an independent expenditure political calling campaign in support of a relative competing on the ballot along with Philip Graham. She is a single young local woman in her twenties and apparently a political novice. It was stressed that she wanted to remain anonymous as she feared reprisal. We received a professionally done prerecorded message for her campaign and had nothing to do with its creation, recording or editing in any way shape or form. It was broadcast within hours of us receiving it and we were paid $800 by her for our services shortly thereafter.
“On Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 6:50:32 PM, MSS received an initial communication via email with an attached pre-recorded audio message from Mark Muir, who was a long-time political client and former Encinitas City Councilman.”
Moser accuses Mark Muir of being the instigator of the libelous robo-call. Mark Muir is a former Encinitas Council Member and, at the time, his wife Maureen “Mo” Muir was running against Graham in the primary. It should be noted that Phil Graham was the endorsed Republican candidate, over Muir and five other Republicans.
Two Democrats were running for the open seat against these six Republicans. After the endorsement, Brian Wimmer dropped out of the race and endorsed Graham. Amanda Rigby, Thomas Krouse, Muir, and Jerome Stocks remained in the race despite poor fundraising numbers. The local GOP wanted to send a message of unity by endorsing Graham and many committee members called for the other Republicans to disband their campaigns; the thought was that a crowded field would advance the two Democrats to the runoff — that’s exactly what happened.
Graham didn’t take the libelous, last-minute robo-call lightly. The robo-call contained factually incorrect information and may have swayed voters to support one of the two Democrats, eliminating any Republicans’ chance to compete in the November general election. After that happened, Graham’s campaign lawyers requested the FCC look into the matter. The FCC may fine Moser as much as $10 million.
Moser is now talking. He requested to publish a press release on San Diego Rostra, naming Mark Muir as the source of the audio recording used in the libelous robo-call. San Diego Rostra published that press release.
In the comments section, I announced that I would question 15 people about their alleged involvement with this libelous robo-call. I emailed all 15 of them. I intend to follow up the emails with phone calls (when possible). I advised all that I may publish their answers. My three questions are:
1- Do you have any knowledge of who hired Kenneth Moser to perform the libelous robocall?
2- If no, do you think Moser is lying?
3- If yes, will you tell me who was behind this?
I also emailed Mr. Moser and asked him:
1- Do you still have the forwarded email, with the voice attachment, from the Muir campaign? If you do, are you willing to share it?
2- Will you identify the “younger woman” who hired you? If you are uncomfortable identifying her, can you eliminate Nichole Burgan as that woman?
3- Were any other candidates for the race involved or did anyone from those candidates’ campaigns act in concert with the Muir campaign?
The fifteen people I questioned, along with their responses received thus far, are:
1- Assemblymember Tasha Boehner-Horvath
2- Former Democratic Assembly candidate Elizabeth Warren
3- Chairman of SD Democratic Party, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy – No involvement and never heard of this issue.
4- Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez
5- Council Member Amanda Rigby
6- School Board Trustee Maureen ‘Mo’ Muir
7- Former Mayor Jerome Stocks – No involvement and won’t speculate about the veracity of Moser’s claim.
8- Former Councilman Mark Muir –
FIRST RESPONSE: Did not directly admit nor deny involvement — offered newspaper articles and union mailers as “his” source of information. Answer to a direct question about his involvement is pending.
SECOND RESPONSE: Muir argues that the source data used doesn’t constitute libel but would not answer direct question about his involvement nor about the veracity of Moser’s claim. Question re-asked. Answer to a direct question about his involvement is pending.
AFTER 9 DAYS, there was no response to this question (after arguing about whether the robocalls were moral or not):
“Was Mr Moser lying or did you email the audio file to him? ”
Mark Muir has not directly admitted to sabotaging Phil Graham’s campaign, has danced around the issue about the morality of what was done, and refused, after three direct questions, to deny his involvement (like everyone else has).
9- Supervisor Kristin Gaspar – No involvement nor knowledge of the situation.
10- Encinitas School Board Trustee Leslie Schneider – No involvement and won’t speculate about the veracity of Moser’s claim.
11- Assembly candidate Melanie Burkholder – No involvement and won’t speculate about the veracity of Moser’s claim.
12- Former Assembly Member Rocky Chavez
13- Chairman of SD Republican Party, Tony Krvaric – No involvement and won’t speculate about the veracity of Moser’s claim.
14- Activist, Paul Gaspar – No involvement nor knowledge of the situation.
15- Former Gaspar Campaign Manager, Bill Christiansen – No involvement nor knowledge of the situation.
N.B. — As of the publishing date, I have only contacted these people via email. Some of those emails were past campaign email addresses and, as some of these people are elected officials, it could be days before they see the email. I will attempt to contact people on this list via telephone as well. Please reserve judgement until all have responded to me or for 7-10 days.