McCloskey blasts Humboldt County Democrats in X-rated letter

Former 1st District candidate alleges book-cooking, sexual harassment cover-up by county Democrats

Allen McCloskey says other Democratic Central Committee members rebuffed his concerns about committee finances and played down instances of sexual harassment. (Times-Standard file)
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Former Humboldt County supervisor candidate Allen McCloskey stepped down from the county’s core Democratic Party committee earlier this month with a three-page resignation letter — containing a sexually explicit photo — accusing the committee’s chair of hiding finances and other members of playing down instances of sexual harassment.

In the letter, McCloskey recounts finding an undisclosed “second set of financial books” at the county’s Democratic Central Committee office. He says other committee members rebuffed his efforts to receive clarification on the balance sheet, which he said reflects “hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.”

“Instead of transparency and open dialogue, I was met with contempt, malice and anger,” McCloskey told the Times-Standard.

Robert Service, the committee chair, fully denied McCloskey’s accusations, calling them “absolutely false,” pointing to public records of election contributions that he says McCloskey conflated with a separate financial account, which Service said doesn’t exist.

“I know Mr. McCloskey to be a liar,” Service said, “with no regard for the truth.”

Later in the letter, McCloskey accuses committee members of ignoring instances of sexual harassment. Among the images attached in the letter is a lewd image of people engaged in a sexual act, which McCloskey says were sent to him by another committee member in a series of unsolicited advances.

When he spoke out, McCloskey says, the committee was “mute” in its response; he later said other committee members downplayed the inappropriate contact.

In an interview, McCloskey didn’t elaborate on his accusations, saying it is a “sensitive situation.” He said he hasn’t received any contact from the committee since his resignation.

In response to the letter, Service said the committee is “seeking legal advice” but isn’t presently considering taking action.

“Presumably Mr. McCloskey is upset at having been forced to withdraw from the (1st District supervisor) race,” Service said. “And now he is going out wherever he can, trying to do the most amount of damage to anybody that happens to be around.”

Earlier this month, McCloskey ended his candidacy for the county’s 1st District seat after multiple past accusations of fraud and embezzlement came to light. While McCloskey denied the allegations, he dropped out of the race shortly afterward, citing the “strain” caused to his family by the incident.

A St. Joseph Hospital employee, McCloskey has been in the public eye as an active union member. He’s also dabbled in other local political campaigns.

Richard Marks, a Democratic Central Committee member, said the committee accepted McCloskey’s resignation at its meeting last Wednesday.

McCloskey alleges that Service’s purported “undisclosed” second account “violates established internal policy.”

“At no time was the collective body informed of these financial transactions or informed of the nature of the business arrangement associated with these funds nor has the source of these funds been publicly disclosed,” McCloskey writes.

“It should also be noted that at no point were the wire transfers carried out by Mr. Service authorized by any vote or consensus of this body,” he continues. “This kind of activity left unchecked can be extremely dangerous.”

He also writes that his attempts to question Service’s actions were met with “immediate and lasting” retaliation, including efforts to frame him as “petty” or “politically charged.”

In an interview, McCloskey described the second finances sheet he found as being in the hundreds-of-thousands range, as opposed to the tens-of-thousands the committee is used to working with.

Kathy Sobilo, another committee member, supported McCloskey’s accusations. As the head of the central committee’s “ways and means,” or tax-writing, Sobilo said her questions of Service’s money-handling have been met with silence.

“Our executive board is very dysfunctional,” Sobilo said. “If you don’t agree with Bob Service, you must be wrong.”

But the committee’s election contributions — which Service pointed out are available on the California secretary of state’s website — would appear to explain what McCloskey said were “undisclosed” high-dollar amounts.

In the calendar year of 2018, the committee reports receiving nearly $550,000 in contributions. After expenditures, the committee’s year-end cash balance is listed as roughly $281,000.

The figure is similar to what McCloskey described. In an interview, he said the balance sheet he saw contained amounts “in excess of $230,000,” adding that the figure is far higher than the “tens of thousands” he and Sobilo say the committee gets to regularly spend.

But Service said that’s because the committee’s spending allowance is just operating costs. And given the online availability of contribution documents, the committee’s “hundreds of thousands” are public and transparent, Service pointed out. In other words, Service said the large balance sheet McCloskey claims to have discovered are actually just election contributions that are already publicly available.

The committee’s internal finance procedures have been “established for years,” Service said, adding that McCloskey “and his allies” never asked about the money during campaign season.

“Anyone who has the slightest interest in knowing where those contributions were made could have looked at the state’s website,” Service said. “It’s right there.”

“They also could’ve gone down to the elections office and looked at (contribution forms),” he added. “Or they could’ve asked me. We want the people of California to know who is spending what and where.”

Multiple other members of the central committee named in McCloskey’s letter declined to comment.

McCloskey’s resignation caps an eventful series of incidents in the county’s public sphere. He said he will now take an extended break from politics and focus on family.

“I’m so thoroughly disgusted by both sides of our local political scene,” he said. “I don’t want much to do with it right now.”

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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