Originally published in the North Coast Journal

“So, uh, Bonnie, how did you like the — the, uh, bad press I’m giving you? I will stop at nothing to ruin your campaign. I will stop you. I’m a bulldog. I’m gonna stop your campaign and you’re gonna fail.”

This message is what greeted campaigners for Bonnie Neely’s re-election campaign on April 19. The recording, found on the voice mailbox of Neely’s campaign office in Fairhaven, was leaked to the Humboldt Herald blog and subsequently posted last Sunday, causing a flurry of accusations that the young male voice on the recording was Chris Holmquist, a (former) volunteer for Virginia Bass’ Fourth District Supe run.

Both the above incident and another, in which a person pulled up to Neely and verbally thrashed her while she was campaigning in Eureka, were forwarded to the Eureka Police Department last Friday.

Capt. Murl Harpham of the EPD said the number tied to the recording was tracked to Loleta, but the number wasn’t attached to any specific person.

Since the incident took place in Fairhaven, the case was sent to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. Public Information Officer Brenda Godsey said that since no actual crimes were committed in both incidents, there would be no investigation. For that reason, the identity of the person in both cases couldn’t be revealed.

But Meghan Vogel, Neely’s Press Secretary, said that the April 24 heckler was identified as Holmquist. As for the recording, people recognized the voice and traced number as Holmquist’s, but there was no certainty that it was him.

When contacted Monday, Holmquist declined to comment about the recording incident.

This sure was news to Bass, who first learned of the incidents via the blog. And that’s what irked her the most. She was concerned that Neely’s campaign didn’t contact her directly about the incidents so she could investigate what happened, adding that she won’t tolerate anyone on her campaign conducting themselves in this manner.

“This could have been taken care of in a professional matter,” she said. “Unfortunately, (Neely’s campaign) chose to release it on the blogs.” After the controversy surfaced, Bass said, Holmquist chose to no longer be a part of the campaign.

“(Holmquist) is not involved in this campaign in any shape or form,” she said. “We really don’t need people fueling the fire.”

The timing between the incident and the police report was also suspect to Bass, who said it appeared “politically motivated.”

Advisors in Neely’s campaign weren’t really sure how to proceed initially, Vogel said, but they ultimately decided to file a police report to have a record of the incident. As for why they didn’t contact Bass’ campaign about the incidents, Vogel said they didn’t want to go there.

“We figured the individual was acting on his own accord,” she said.

But then there’s the matter of the leak. The only people who had the recording were Neely’s campaign and law enforcement officials. Vogel didn’t know who leaked the recording to the Herald, but it wasn’t the intention of the campaign to publicize the incidents.

“I don’t think we wanted to make a stink out of it,” she said.

3 Comments

  • Tapperass says:

    I am not sure if the initial splash worked by releasing the tape to the Herald. The Bass people have handled this about as well as they can considering what has transpired.

  • pitchfork says:

    Mitch nailed you with this comment:

    So let’s review the NCJ article, to get some further insight into how the
    local press operates:

    First the story: “Mr X, a 25 year old worker with the Bass campaign, seen
    tabling with them on May 1st, apparently left a threatening voice message
    at the Neely campaign, after having driven behind Neely heckling her while
    she walked in the district. The daily and weekly never reported word one,
    until this week’s NCJ.

    Paragraphs 1-3: Threatening sounding message left on Neely campaign voice
    mail. Leaked to Herald. Neely also “verbally thrashed” while campaigning.

    Paragraph 4,5: EPD to Neely, “Yawn, sounds like too much work. Nothing to
    see.”

    Paragraph 6,7: Here’s the person who did the “verbal thrashing,” here’s
    the person who did the phone message. But the person has no comment.

    Paragraphs 8,9,10,11: The Bass campaign gets to thrash Neely for
    complaining about two stalking incidents. The nerve.

    Paragraph 12, 13: The Neely campaign gets to respond solely to the Bass
    campaign’s complaint about them not being polite victims.

    Paragraph 14, 15: The nerve of anyone to tell the public!

  • Reporta says:

    This is my response.

    Mitch: Don’t kill the messenger. Just because you may have not gotten what you wanted from the story, may it be a smoking gun or whatever, the story still adds insight into what occurred.

    Paragraphs 1-3: Threatening sounding message left on Neely campaign voice mail. Leaked to Herald. Neely also “verbally thrashed” while campaigning.

    Well, true. You have a message harassing Neely. Said message was leaked to the Herald and posted days after a report with law enforcement was filed, but weeks after the incident occurred. And yes, Neely was apparently also “verbally thrashed” while campaigning.

    Paragraph 4,5: EPD to Neely, “Yawn, sounds like too much work. Nothing to see.”

    Quite the opposite. EPD investigated the incident and found that no criminal wrongdoing occurred. That’s about where it ends for law enforcement. Since Fairhaven is outside of EPD jurisdiction, the HCSO gets handed the case and concludes, also, that no crime took place. It doesn’t devalue what happened, it merely takes it out of the criminal category. If you got issue with that, talk to those agencies.

    Paragraph 6,7: Here’s the person who did the “verbal thrashing,” here’s the person who did the phone message. But the person has no comment.

    Yup, Holmquist did not want to talk to the media about what happened. I gave him an opportunity to respond and he chose not too.

    Paragraphs 8,9,10,11: The Bass campaign gets to thrash Neely for complaining about two stalking incidents. The nerve.

    For one, Neely’s campaign wasn’t complaining about anything, publicly at least. A report was filed with law enforcement just to have a record if any other instances of harassment happened again. If anything, the incidents confused some because Holmquist worked on Larry Glass’ campaign once and worked with some of these people on the Neely camp.

    I don’t dictate what position a person wants to take when being indirectly accused of some wrongdoing. Bass’ position on this was that she doesn’t tolerate these kinds of shenanigans by her campaign staff. Holmquist is no longer a part of her campaign as a result.

    Also, she chose to turn the issue around on Neely’s campaign and raised a good point, “Why didn’t Neely’s campaign tell her about the conduct of one of her staffers earlier and, instead, finds out about it on an anti-Bass blog. To her it felt politically motivated and she was pissed off to find out about it there. What’s wrong with that? I’d be pissed off too.

    If the situation was flipped and Bass staffers leaked a recording to the Mirror, I’m sure Neely would have words about not being contacted about the incidents prior to it being publicized on a blog that does everything to discredit her.

    Paragraph 12, 13: The Neely campaign gets to respond solely to the Bass campaign’s complaint about them not being polite victims.

    The key quote here is: “We figured the individual was acting on his own accord.” That should put it all in perspective. Neely’s campaign is not making any allegations toward Bass specifically. To them, this was a minor incident, abet a troubling one, involving an individual on Bass’ staff, but ultimately one that didn’t need to be publicized and blown up into the hype that it has become…

    And if anything, I don’t think they are playing the “victim” role either.

    Paragraph 14, 15: The nerve of anyone to tell the public!

    This is an unfair statement.

    Neely’s camp wanted to handle this off the radar because to them it wasn’t as big of a deal as the blogs are making it out to be. Who leaked the info to the blogs is an important issue to comment on as well, specifically because what tends to go on the blogs doesn’t always tend to be investigated by a reporter in the local press and it wasn’t the intention of the campaign to do so, according to them.

    Is there more to the story? Probably, but no one wanted to talk about it any more than they did in this piece. If you were expecting some sort of, “Oops, you caught me,” that’s just silly.