Sexual harassment allegations levied against Republican Carl DeMaio by an ex-campaign staffer derailed the GOP rising star’s otherwise successful campaign. DeMaio’s upsetting loss last November was arguably attributed to these tenacious claims, but now it turns out the allegations were all false.

As a staunch fiscal conservative with a track record on the San Diego City Council to prove it, and as the first openly gay man to run for Congress as a Republican, DeMaio certainly made heads turn and headlines across the country.  He made efforts to reach out to traditionally non-Republican communities a central strategy of his campaign in a congressional district, California’s 52nd, that is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Both Tea Party and Establishment wings of the Republican Party took a liking to DeMaio and pumped money and good press his way, with a lot of talk surrounding his “New Generation Republican.” His opponent, freshman Democrat incumbent Scott Peters, meanwhile, was just another textbook liberal awash in the sea of citizens fed up with the Democrat agenda.

But then came the October Surprise: DeMaio was accused by ex-campaign staffer Todd Bosnich of unwelcome sexual advances in and outside of the office, and similar claims cropped up from his time on the San Diego City Council. Bosnich also claimed that he was threatened by the DeMaio campaign to remain mum about the sexual misconduct, lest he ever wanted to work in politics again.

After losing by a 3.2% margin, DeMaio attributed his loss to the charges, which he maintained were salacious and false throughout the campaign.

Now it seems DeMaio has been vindicated of a crime he never committed, as Bosnich last Friday plead guilty to obstruction of justice by lying to the FBI about the alleged email from the DeMaio campaign. Bosnich admitted that he sent the email to himself from a dummy email account, according to the LA Times. 

DeMaio released a statement in reaction to the guilty plea: “Bosnich’s lies were incredibly painful, smeared my reputation and derailed our congressional campaign…. I also want to thank the thousands of supporters who stood by me and saw this disgusting smear for what it was.”

For his felony crime, Bosnich can receive up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Most likely, he will not serve time as part of his plea bargain.

Of course, many, including myself, will continue to wonder to what degree these made-up accusations played a role in DeMaio’s defeat. It seems most likely that many who would have come out to vote for DeMaio decided to stay at home than the possibility of mass numbers switching allegiances just weeks before the election. One must wonder if the accusations sent those conservatives who already had to get over the hump of DeMaio being openly gay packing for home.

But what’s past is past. Rather than speculate about what have could bee in CA52, it’s more important to analyze what’s going on with those who are actually in the current Congress. Let this tale of DeMaio, however, serve as a cautionary one to both the electorate and the candidates. For the electorate, don’t be so quick to stay at home because of some exceptionally well-timed allegations. For the candidates, if you know allegations are untrue then take them head on–demand evidence. Imagine if DeMaio had asked news reporters prying him about the accusations: “Have you actually bothered to investigate if the email account which sent Mr. Bosnich that threatening email is actually traceable to me or my campaign? Or did he just make it himself the night before?”

In my post-election analysis piece, I wrote the following: “If [the sexual harassment allegations] are true, DeMaio will probably have to say goodbye to politics, but if they are false then he will definitely have a good shot come 2016.” Looking forward to 2016.