A California woman who accused congressional hopeful Gil Cisneros of sexual misconduct has reversed course after meeting with the Democrat.
Melissa Fazli, a Democratic activist and documentary filmmaker, previously alleged Cisneros propositioned her during a party convention earlier this year and said she interpreted another interaction as him wanting “to have sex with me in exchange” for a political donation.
But after a meeting was facilitated this weekend, Fazli is changing her tune.
“I misunderstood the conversations that I had with Gil Cisneros at the Democratic convention and after. I don’t believe that Gil sexually harassed me,” she said in a statement released by the Cisneros campaign Monday.
In his own statement, Cisneros said he decided to reach out to Fazli after “seeing the pain of Dr. Ford and so many women and the dismissiveness of both Judge Kavanaugh and Washington Republicans.”
Christine Blasey Ford, a California psychology professor, threw a wrench in the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last month when she publicly accused him of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh has frequently denied the allegations.
“I believed it was important to listen to [Fazli] and to open up a line of communication,” Cisneros said. “We sat down and heard each other, found a clear case of misunderstanding, and are both ready to move forward.”
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Fazli and Cisneros both condemned ads released by the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), a Republican super PAC, which pounced on the allegations. On Twitter, Fazli said the “vile” ads have “victimized me all over again.”
But progressive groups – such as UltraViolet Action – also had called for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to “immediately withdraw its support” for the candidate and adopt a “zero tolerance policy for sexists in its ranks.”
“Is this another example of a rich and powerful man using his power to intimidate a victim of sexual harassment? It’s disappointing that only because Gil Cisneros is losing an election he decided to take sexual harassment allegations against him seriously,” CLF communications director Courtney Alexander said in a statement to Fox News. “Cisneros has been publicly accused of disturbing accounts of sexual harassment for the past six months and instead of taking those accusations seriously, his surrogates called them absurd. Unlike Gil Cisneros, we believe all sexual harassment allegations should be taken seriously.”
Cisneros’ campaign said Fazli had to change her license plates and hire security at her home in the wake of the CLF’s advertisements.
Cisneros faces Republican Young Kim in the November election for the 39th congressional district. Fox News has ranked the race, open with the retirement of Republican Rep. Ed Royce, a tossup.
Former President Barack Obama hit the campaign trail for Cisneros earlier this year.
Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.