Amid allegations of sexual harassment against fellow Republican, 38th California District Assembly candidate, Dante Acosta, US House Rep. Steve Knight drew support from House Speaker Paul Ryan with an early Friday morning fundraiser at the TPC in Stevenson Ranch.
The move didn’t sit well with Knight’s opponent, Bryan Caforio who is trying to upend the incumbent in the 25th US House district.
“He is soliciting funds in a desperate attempt to salvage Congressmen’s Steve Knight flailing campaign,” Caforio said.
Caforio spoke to reporters outside the building as Ryan, Knight and several other prominent local GOP leaders took part in the closed-door fundraiser.
Caforio is targeting Acosta who is vying for the California’s 38th District Assembly seat against Democratic challenger Christy Smith.
Acosta is accused of sexually harassing Republican consultant Jennifer Van Laar. An accusation that Acosta strongly denied Thursday.
Van Laar says Acosta, Santa Clarita’s mayor pro-tem propositioned her last year when both were both in Washington D.C. Van Laar also accused Acosta of sending her inappropriate text messages.
Van Laar’s allegations came to light in an email that was sent to Vanessa Wilk, the wife of Scott Wilk who is vacating the 38th assembly seat to run for California’s open 21st Senate district seat. Wilk later shared the email with Knight.
“Congressman Knight admits that he met with the women and he further admits that he was concerned for her safety,” Caforio said.
Van Laar released a statement through Steve Knight’s campaign today condemning Caforio’s attack on Knight stating that Knight has always treated her with the utmost dignity and respect. She has also asked that Caforio retract his statements and apologize to the Santa Clarita community.
Caforio is also trying to connect Knight’s handling of Acosta’s troubles to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Donald Trump and Congressmen Knight stand in the way of women’s progress at every turn,” said Caforio.
Caforio also used his early morning platform to attack Knight’s stand on abortion which includes Knight’s desire to defund Planned Parenthood.
Video from Skylar Barti