Suspicion At Once Falls Upon Rowe’s Boys After Campaign Teleconference Is Hacked

Multiple eyes are upon Third District Supervisor Dawn Rowe and her staff after the Democratic candidate in the 8th Congressional District had one of her on-line campaign events hacked, during which those taking part were subjected to Nazi, Ku Klux Klan and pornographic images.
Chris Bubser is the Democratic candidate seeking to succeed 8th District Congressman Paul Cook. She is engaged in a race against Jay Obernolte, a Republican and the incumbent Assemblyman in California’s 33rd Assembly District. Both Cook and Rowe, who are Republicans, have endorsed Obernolte, and are engaged in the effort to ensure his election. Cook who has been a member of Congress since his election in 2012, opted out of running to remain in the U.S. House of Representatives this year to instead seek election to join Rowe on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors as supervisor in the county’s First Supervisorial District. Both Rowe and Cook were successful in their election campaigns that culminated with the March 3 California Primary Election.
Rowe was formerly a member of Cook’s congressional staff.
Rowe employs two of the San Bernardino County governmental structure’s resident dirty tricksters, Matt Knox, who is her chief of staff, and Dillon Lesovsky, her policy advisor. Both Knox and Lesovsky were formerly members of Cook’s congressional staff, serving in those capacities simultaneously and along with Rowe.
Knox and Lesovsky were famously, or perhaps infamously, the architects of the “Dirty Donnelly” attack, which targeted 8th Congressional District candidate Tim Donnelly in 2018 when the two political operatives were working on behalf of Cook’s campaign. Of note is that both Donnelly and Cook are Republicans, who had captured first and second place in California’s open primary in 2018, thus qualifying for the November runoff despite the fact that they are members of the same political party.
Cook is a retired Marine Corps colonel whose political career is grounded in his representation of himself as a rock-ribbed conservative Republican. His electoral pedigree included a stint as Yucca Valley mayor and time in the California Assembly before he moved on to Congress.
Cook and his political advisers had reason to consider Donnelly a formidable opponent. Donnelly’s political persona was anchored to his identification as the most conservative politician in California and one who is unrelentingly faithful to bedrock ultra-right principles, which matched perfectly with a solid plurality if not an outright majority of the voters in the overwhelmingly right wing 8th Congressional District.
Donnelly had taken a diamond-hard stance against illegal immigration, going so far as founding the California Chapter of the Minuteman to patrol the border with Mexico. Even more pointedly, Donnelly is a die-hard Second Amendment advocate, and he lived up to the principle he espoused. While he was yet a member of the California Assembly, he would routinely carry a concealed gun onto the floor of the statehouse while the legislature was in session. He took an aggressive stand against a 2011 bill restricting the open carrying of handguns in California by labeling the measure “a form of tyranny.” He topped that when, on the way back to Sacramento after the Christmas and New Year holidays for the first state legislative session in 2012, he was stopped by Transportation Security Administration officers at Ontario Airport for having a Colt .45 handgun loaded with four rounds of ammunition and five additional rounds in his carry on baggage.
The gun was taken from him and he was cited for possession of a loaded firearm. It turned out that Donnelly, who had purchased the gun roughly five years before the incident, had never registered it in his name. He was not charged with failing to purchase the gun through a licensed dealer, which is prosecutable as misdemeanor under California’s gun laws. Ultimately, Donnelly pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport. He was fined $2,125 and placed on probation for three years, but was not prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon thereafter, as long as, under the terms of his probation he did not “use, own or possess any firearm that is not registered to him.” Donnelly maintained he had done nothing wrong, going on record as saying, “I didn’t do anything other than exercise my Second Amendment rights as a free American.”
His action did not hamper him politically, as he was seen by gun owners as having stood up to unreasonable liberal efforts to restrict gun ownership, and he was handily reelected in the November 2012 General Election.
Of particular concern to the Cook political machine were the large numbers of gun-toting constituents in the 8th District, which covers a large swath of the Mojave Desert and the San Bernardino Mountains, where gun ownership is a way of life for a majority of those living in isolated rural areas.
Knox and Lesovsky set about undoing Donnelly’s candidacy by constructing a website,, attacking Donnelly and augmenting it with signs to promote the website. utilized doctored photos to paint Donnelly in the most negative of light, and dwelt at length on a number of derogatories relating to the former assemblyman, including that he had a criminal record, which was an unspecified reference to his gun-carrying conviction; accusations that he was scamming senior citizens; allegations that he had deserted his family; assertions that he had engaged in “political fraud,” which was again unspecified; and insinuations that he stole from his own wife. All that was punctuated by the contention that Donnelly was unemployed. In violation of state law, the website had no identifying California Fair Political Practices registration number nor any indicia required under California law for campaign literature and materials to show what entity, organization, committee or campaign paid for the website. The campaign on behalf of Cook, which was directed by Knox as Cook’s campaign manager, and the hit perpetrated by Knox and Lesovsky proved highly effective, as Cook trounced Donnelly in the November 6, 2018 election, 108,414 votes or 61.33 percent to 68,370 votes or 38.67 percent.
After Third District Supervisor James Ramos was elected to the California Assembly in the same November 2018 race in which Cook defeated Donnelly, Ramos was obliged to resign as supervisor to accede to the Assembly position. The remaining members of the board of supervisors, three of whom – Curt Hagman, Robert Lovingood and Janice Rutherford – are Republicans, in December 2018 voted to appoint Rowe, who once served on the Yucca Valley Town Council, to serve out the Democrat Ramos’s remaining two years on the board of supervisors.
Very shortly after Rowe moved into the position representing the Third District, which covers the cities of Grand Terrace, Loma Linda, Highland, Redlands, Yucaipa, Big Bear, Barstow, Twentynine Palms, the eastern portion of San Bernardino, the town of Yucca Valley and the unincorporated communities of Bryn Mawr, Mentone, Angeles Oaks and Forest Falls, she hired Knox and Lesovsky to serve on her staff. There have been indications that Knox, in his capacity as Rowe’s chief of staff, and Lesovsky, as Rowe’s policy advisor, were or are running multiple 2020 election campaigns from inside of Rowe’s office, including Rowe’s electoral effort for Third District supervisor, Cook’s campaign for First District supervisor, Obernolte’s campaign for Congress and Thurston Smith’s effort to capture the 33rd Assembly District position that Obernolte is abandoning in vying for the House of Representatives.
Those indicators have been ignored by the county’s chief executive officer, Gary McBride, and the county’s chief operating officer, Leonard X. Hernandez, as well as Curt Hagman, the current chairman of the board of supervisors. McBride and Hernandez, the county’s two top staff members, serve at the pleasure of the board of supervisors. Hagman, who was formerly the chairman of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, has made no objection to Knox’s and Lesovsky’s activities, which have consistently been, since their employment with the county began, in favor of Republican officeholders or candidates.
While the use of public and/or governmental resources, personnel, facilities and equipment for political or partisan activity is prohibited under the law, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson, a Republican, is not inclined to prosecute Rowe, Knox or Lesovsky, and his office has not looked into the activity carried out by Rowe’s office.
The county’s information technology division can recover from the hard drives of county employees’ computers the history of their activity utilizing those devices.
The underhanded methodology that Knox and Lesovsky have developed and employed against political candidates they oppose, in the parlance of political operatives, is referred to as “ratfucking.”
Chris Bubser’s campaign in the 8th Congressional District was ratfucked on June 27, during a Zoom teleconferencing event involving roughly three dozen participants. Less than 30 minutes into that forum, which at that point featured 9th Congressional District Congressman Jerry McNerney fielding questions, there was an interruption of the proceedings by an individual who claimed to be a member of the Zoom technical support staff. Thereafter, swastikas, images of a Ku Klux Klan gathering, graphic sexual depictions and other photos flashed across the participants’ viewing screens.
In short order, the conference was curtailed.
Given Knox’s and Lesovsky’s history and the consideration that Bubser is in a political battle against Obernolte, whose candidacy is supported by Rowe, suspicion at once fell open Rowe and her two political henchmen.
Though Knox and Lesovsky had the motive, means, expertise and opportunity to have perpetrated the hacking of Bubser’s campaign event, no evidence implicating them has emerged. The county, including Rowe, Knox and Lesovsky, is steadfastly refusing to comment upon the political activity Rowe’s office is involved in.
-Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply