Fullerton, Calif. – While Congressional Republicans refuse to investigate the multiple claims of sexual assault against President Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee, Paul Ryan’s Super PAC has released a negative ad that makes blatantly false claims and numerous factual errors about Gil Cisneros, Fmr. Lieutenant Commander, veterans and education advocate, and co-founder of the Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation. Not only does Paul Ryan’s ad make false claims, but multiple members and mothers of the 39th District have also spoken out about the ad being shown in the middle of children’s programming.
“It’s despicable that Paul Ryan’s Super PAC is making blatantly false claims in the midst of multiple survivors coming forward with legitimate accusations of sexual assault against the Trump administration’s handpicked Supreme Court Justice nominee,” said Daphne Sigala, spokeswoman for the Cisneros campaign. “Not only is Paul Ryan’s Super PAC tone deaf on this issue, they’ve also stooped to exposing the children of the 39th District to their falsehoods. There are multiple eyewitnesses, including an Emmy award-winning Fox News television journalist, and photos of Cisneros’s whereabouts that contradict this baseless allegation. Paul Ryan’s Super PAC and Young Kim should stop playing politics with the MeToo movement.”
On September 19th, Politifact wrote about the Super PAC ad and noted that they had “taken a liberty with Fazli’s claim.” Specifically, it notes that the initial allegation never said Cisneros “‘demanded sex’ as the PAC’s first ad said, or was ‘demanding sex in exchange for campaign cash,’ as the more recent one put it.” In fact, Fazli herself is quoted in the fact check article noting that the CLF has “used dramatic license,” that Cisneros “didn’t ‘demand’ anything,” and that the ad’s characterization “was for THEIR dramatic purposes only.
Local community members in the district also released statements condemning Paul Ryan’s Super PAC for spreading these false, sexualized claims in the middle of children’s programming:
“Shame on Paul Ryan and Republicans in Congress for airing sexualized content in front of my children. The Washington Post has called these ads ‘Grossly Misleading,’ and their complete lack of immoral and unethical behavior will not be forgotten on November 6th.” – Mirvette Judeh, Brea, mother of 3
“Since the CLF’s ad went live, my 7 year old daughter has had this on her screen as 100% of the advertising. This particular ad is not only biased and disgusting, but totally inappropriate to target to child aged programming. The CLF is deliberately affecting their innocence toward their political gain. Shame.” – Maria Latham, Yorba Linda, mother of 1
“I’m disgusted that Paul Ryan’s Super PAC has stooped so low as to spread falsehoods and inappropriate material in front of my child. It’s simply not acceptable to be spreading this material in the middle of children’s programming, and yet, Young Kim welcomes the lies and the support of the morally corrupt Republican establishment in Congress.” – Jason Chung, Yorba Linda, father of 1
On Friday, August 31st, the Washington Post published a fact check on Republican attack ads by Speaker Paul Ryan’s Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), against Democratic candidates, including an ad against Gil Cisneros that centers around the false allegation. The fact check rated the CLF’s ad against Gil Cisneros “Four Pinocchios,” the highest false rating possible.
Below is the community response and the facts about the allegation in the Super PAC ad, as well as multiple eyewitness accounts and testimonials that set the record straight:
In an undated and unsigned statement printed on ‘Melissa Fazli Assembly 55’ letterhead shared to her Twitter account, Melissa Fazli alleged, “On February 24, 2018 at the San Diego Bayfront Hotel…I had an inappropriate encounter with Gil Cisneros,” “around the 11pm hour.” Fazli alleges that on February 24, 2018, she and Cisneros “chit chatted about Rep. Waters” party while waiting for the elevator,” and Cisneros “was intoxicated.” She alleges Cisneros asked her, “Should we go back to your room?”
This is false. There are multiple eyewitnesses, including a local Emmy-award winning Fox News television journalist, that contradict the alleged timeline of events, can attest to Cisneros’s whereabouts, and can vouch for his lucidity and sobriety.
Cisneros did not attend Rep. Waters’ event that evening, which was held at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Cisneros attended an SEIU-United Healthcare Workers event held at the San Diego Convention Center from 10:15 pm to midnight, accompanied by Thomas Rivera. At approximately 11:07 p.m., Cisneros, accompanied by Rivera, went directly from the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers event to the Hard Rock Hotel.
Multiple eyewitnesses have verified that Cisneros was sober and not where Fazli claims he was on February 24, including local Emmy award-winning journalist, FOX News 5 San Diego Reporter Jaime Chambers. They report Cisneros being lucid and sober:
“I met with candidate Cisneros outside the convention bldg. that Saturday, February 24th at approximately 10:15pm as he and Tom were headed to the SEIU-United HealthCare Workers function. He was sober, alert, very engaged. I’ve been at numerous functions with Gil and can’t say recall him drinking.” -3rd Vice Chair San Bernardino County Democratic Party, 1st Vice President Chino Valley Democratic Club and State Party Delegate AD-55 Jim Gallagher
“On the evening of February 24, 2018, I attended the California Democratic Convention, in San Diego, CA. My friend, Monica Marin, and I attending the San Diego Labor Council Dinner at approximately 6:00 PM, which ended at approximately 9:00 PM. After the dinner, she and I attended a couple of events, prior to attending the SEIU Local 221 event in one of the rooms, at about 10:00 PM. While there, Monica and I met up with Gilbert Cisneros, along with his assistant Tom. We were present at that event until approximately 11:00 PM, before attending another event. During that time, Gilbert never appeared intoxicated. I did not even observe him with a drink in hand during that time. After the event, Gilbert wished us a goodnight, at which time he and Tom left together.” -Rachel Chang, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse, Office of the Attorney General
“I was with Gilbert Cisneros the night of February 24th between 10:15 and 11 pm and he was not intoxicated.” -Monica Valdovinos, SEIU 1000 Shop Steward
“Around 11 pm on Saturday at the convention center, I spoke with Gil Cisneros outside of the Fiona Ma & Chairman Bauman Karaoke event. As Gil passed by, we stopped to discuss his convention experience and how his race was going thus far. I can attest that when we spoke Gil was sober and had not been drinking.” -Hacienda Heights Resident Gabriel Monares
“At around 10:30 pm I was with Gil Cisneros at the Nacho Average Healthcare Union hospitality suite on the evening of February 24th at the Plaza Terrace. I went to say ‘Hi’ to him (Gil) and his staffer and introduced him to some friends and colleagues of mine at the event. I can confirm that Gil did not have a drink in his hand and was completely sober.” -DSCC Delegate Sam Sukaton
Fazli’s response does not add up. In addition to doubling down on her timeline by producing a text message that places her outside the Rep. Waters party at 11:15 p.m., Fazli responded to Cisneros’s denial of false allegations with a screenshot of an unidentified text message. The message mentions the “cardenas party.” Cisneros attended an event hosted by Congresswoman Sánchez and Congressman Cárdenas and held on February 23, the night before the evening of Fazli’s allegations, and gave a speech.
Additional witnesses at the event hosted by Congresswoman Sánchez and Congressman Cárdenas verify Cisneros was not intoxicated:
“On the night of February 23rd, I was at an event hosted by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez at the CADEM convention. I spoke with Gil Cisneros at length and Gil was sober and collected. I have known and worked with Gil for years. These allegations do not align with Gil Cisneros’ moral character.” -Pico Rivera Mayor Gustavo Camacho
“I attended Linda Sanchez’s hospitality suite the night of Friday, February 23rd at the State Convention in San Diego. I had a conversation with Mr. Cisneros and his staffer. Gil was not intoxicated and had not been drinking, we briefly discussed his race. Based on our interaction it was clear that he was sober.” -Vice President Montebello Unified School District Ben Cardenas
Photographs from February 23, 2018, the night in question, show a sober Cisneros speaking at the event hosted by Congressman Cárdenas and Congresswoman Sánchez at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Congresswoman Nanette Barragán was also present and pictured with Cisneros.
In summary, Fazli falsely claims she and Cisneros had an “inappropriate encounter” in an elevator around the “11pm hour” at the San Diego Bayfront Hotel. She alleges Cisneros was intoxicated and propositioned her. The interaction between Cisneros and Fazli was witnessed by Thomas Rivera. Rivera confirms Cisneros’s account that he was neither intoxicated nor did he proposition Fazli. Fazli asked Cisneros for a campaign donation to which he declined. In addition, multiple individuals interacted with Cisneros as he was headed to, and throughout the SEIU United Healthcare Workers event, all who report Cisneros being lucid and sober. Cisneros and Thomas Rivera went directly from the SEIU United Workers Event to the Hard Rock Hotel at approximately 11:07 p.m., where multiple witnesses including local journalist Fox 5 San Diego Reporter Jaime Chambers report Cisneros being lucid and sober.