As we covered yesterday, 38th Assembly District candidate and Santa Clarita Councilmember Dante Acosta has been accused of sexual harassment by a Republican campaign staffer. What follows is a brief email exchange between Acosta’s accuser and then-staffer for the late State Senator Sharon Runner, Vanessa Wilk. These emails also cc’d Assemblyman Scott Wilk and Congressman Steve Knight.
This email came in the days prior to the June primary election, in which Acosta (R-Santa Clarita) would end up finishing 2nd and advancing onto the general election against Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita). All parties to these emails have been contacted for comment, and all have either declined or have not responded. Portions of these emails have been redacted.
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According to sources familiar with the matter, shortly before the June 2016 primary, Rep. Steve Knight and other Republican officials were made aware of credible allegations of sexual harassment involving a GOP campaign staffer, implicating Dante Acosta, the City of Santa Clarita Councilmember and candidate for California’s 38th Assembly District, who was an employee of Knight’s office at the time.
The alleged harassment took place over 14-month period and included unwanted advances by Acosta, including inappropriate comments and texts, as well as direct propositioning.
In mid-June, just a couple of weeks after a contentious 4-way primary election, Acosta abruptly announced his resignation from his day job with Rep. Steve Knight—ostensibly to spend more time with his campaign.
This surprised campaign watchers at the time, since it came after a frenetic run-up to the June primary, and at the beginning of a months-long lull before the general election season. Why resign in June and not March? Or August? These allegations may shed light on those questions.
For now, we’ll follow up with more information as this story develops.
Acosta did not respond to requests to comment for this story.