Fazli’s Cisneros Blast




Melissa Fazli and Gil Cisneros, composite photo.

AD-55 candidate Melissa Fazli, who is challenging Democrat Gregg Fritchle for the right to run against Assemblyman Phillip Chen this fall, yesterday made waves in the overlapping CA-39 Congressional race with Twitter accusations that candidate Gil Cisneros made an improper sexual advance at her at the California Democratic Party (“CDP”) convention last spring.

Before this gets a word further, I want to remove myself from the story, so I will need to make extensive disclosures about both races — none of which will involve direct conflicts of interest regarding my daughter’s “compliance officer” business because I don’t know who if anyone in either race is among its clients.  So skip this indented part unless that interests you.

  • I think that I voted for Melissa Fazli to become an CDP delegate back in January 2016.  I hadn’t known her going into the meeting, but as I recall she gave an impressive speech.
  • I tried to talk Fritchle from dropping out of the AD-55 race in Fazli’s favor, being under the mistaken impression that he didn’t really care much about running this year, might not even be aware of Fazli’s candidacy, and might want to focus on a local race this year.  It went quite poorly.  Fritchle has since been publicly persnickety about people not rejecting Fazli in his favor, given that he is the endorsed candidate.  I’m not particularly invested in that race.
  • Since that time, I learned some disturbing information about Fazli’s financial dealings with a vendor that has soured me on her, but I have not confronted her about them and given her a chance to answer the charges, nor do I recall writing about them, so I’m happy for others to zero this fact out until and unless someone else comes forward with accusations.  I simply can’t deny that it has affected my own thinking.
  • In CA-39, I supported Jay Chen (as did Fazli) and still dearly with he’d gotten the extra vote or two needed for the endorsement.  Then I was leaning towards Phil Janowicz.  Then I decided that I’d best stop supporting people for a while.
  • I’m on record as saying that Cisneros seemed to be a better fit for the district than his mail rival, Andy Thorburn, but that I (perhaps atypically for my district) preferred Thorburn’s style.
  • I’m on record as doubting that either of the other two leading Democrats, Mai Khan Tran and  Sam Jammal, can win, respectively due to lack of political skills and ties to the district and lack of money and campaign skills.  I’ve said that I thought that NPP Karen Schatzle likely had the chops, but I haven’t checked her latest fundraising figures and given that she’s a non-Democrat I couldn’t endorse her anyway even if I wanted to.  While I respect her, I’m not currently inclined to vote for her.
  • I’m on record as being very, very, very negative towards the DCCC’s strategy in this campaign season all across the country, which from what I can tell is to try to purge the party of Berniecrats.  That Cisneros was recently made a “Red to Blue” selection therefore doesn’t impress me, but out of fairness to him it also doesn’t really bother me.  The candidates they choose to promote aren’t the problem; they are.
  • I am, on the other hand, very concerned about the massive hit piece “report” against Thorburn.  What I know of it suggests that at least parts of it are highly misleading at best, but I haven’t finished my draft of the analysis of it, which I hope to publish over the weekend.  My biggest concern about this race is that I don’t believe that Cisneros is the one who initiated it, although he may have bought it and adopted it once it was presented to him.  It looks to me like the hit jobs that the DCCC has done against other Berniecrat candidates in Texas and elsewhere.  I haven’t written about this yet (and would not do so today, absent Fazli’s charges forcing it out of me), because I first want to give Cisneros a chance to answer my questions about how the report — which he has at least strongly implied that he commissioned himself — came into being.  His having received it from DCCC and adopted it as his own strikes me as bad, but not necessarily disqualifying; lying NOW to cover up the DCCC’s role in producing the report, to save their hides, would in my opinion be disqualifying.
  • The rest of what I have to say can be said below.

Fazli tweeted the press release found below, which has been tweeted enthusiastically for the past day by the NRCC (the Republican equivalent of the DCCC), which to this point has been trying to stir up trouble over the party dismissing the candidacy of Mai Khan Tran as having been over sexism — as opposed to its being over her having no substantial ties to the district and not being capable of saying much beyond “I’m a woman and a pediatrician” at those campaign events she doesn’t skip.  (Seems like a nice person, though.)  I’ll critique it after I present it; it’s a composite from the two pages of the release:

That Cisneros may have made a drunken pass at Fazli — though sometimes people do want privacy simply to talk — but for now I’m inclined to honor her instincts about this, presuming that it happened as she says — is disturbing … but mostly because he’s married.  Other than that — well, these things happen among adults, and the power discrepancy created by his wealth shouldn’t prevent Cisneros from ever seeking a sexual liaison.  So at worst this is a mark against him, but not a disqualifying him.

It’s the second interaction that troubles me.  If he were trying to extort sexual favors out of Fazli in exchange for a contribution, that would be terrible and beyond acceptable norms.  But if he were trying to get her to “be a spy for him” — well, that’s unsavory, but (to the extent that I can even figure out what she means) it’s not entirely out of bounds for this sort of race.

What shocks me is Fazli’s assertion that “this can be interpreted two ways: either” spy or sex.  That’s ridiculous.  It can obviously be interpreted in at least one other way — that Cisneros wanted to know whether Fazli was prepared to endorse him.  Her first answer to that “what are you going to do for me?” question was, as she recounts it, to talk about what a great candidate she would be — which is a somewhat strange response.  It’s strange enough that his answer: “no, what are YOU going to do for ME” (overemphasis mine) — unless accompanied by eyebrow waggling and licking and smacking of lips — seems like he was interrupting someone clueless about the fact that if SHE was coming to HIM asking for MONETARY SUPPORT, it’s reasonable for HIM to ask HER about POLITICAL SUPPORT.  This is pretty damned basic.  Fazli’s not picking up on it is weird — and her then hypothesizing about his having been a sad sack in high school is grotesque.  I’m not “going after” Fazli here to protect Cisneros or to “publicly flog her for coming forward” with accusations of sexual impropriety: that’s fine.  I’m criticizing her for, unless there’s more that was left out of her account, apparently being an idiot.

I can’t think that I can remember a candidate who has been more blessed in his enemies and cursed in his friends than Cisneros.  Thorburn’s own criticism of his having left him an email calmly informing him that he’s going negative on him is itself weird.  His having done so is unusual for a candidate — but only because it was a small courtesy (a “head’s up” about the coming report) that most candidates would have foregone while cackling about the surprise he had in store.  (I attribute Thorburn’s response to his lousy PR team.)  It’s not the stuff of a counterattack.  THE REPORT ITSELF is the stuff of a counterattack!

So the best reasons to support Cisneros, aside from his money, are that Fazli’s attack on him and Thorburn’s attack on him seem bizarre and the NRCC seems desperate not to run against him.  The best reasons to oppose him are that the DCCC is trying to cram him down everyone’s throat by (if my suspicions are right) producing for him (and making him lie about that) a vicious and at least substantially misplaced about Thorburn because Thorburn has Berniecrat support, and that he’s gone abong with it.

As for the NRCC itself — I’d suggest that it go to hell if it weren’t already halfway there.  How about if it focuses on racism from Shawn Nelson, idiocy from Young Kim, and historical corruption of Bob Huff?  That should keep it busy through the primary.

And why doesn’t the DCCC do so as well?  Well, at least that much is obvious.  Republicans aren’t the enemy to the DCCC — Berniecrats are.  And so CA-39 continues to be an especially screwed-up race.  At least Jay Chen’s withdrawal has kept the DCCC from having gone after him given his being a Berniecrat– because I wouldn’t have put it past those idiots.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)