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.