By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Councilman Kalasho's Facebook followers have shrunk to just 21 people following his numerous ethical and legal controversies.
August 17, 2018 (El Cajon)—El Cajon Councilman Bessmon "Ben" Kalasho tried to reregister as a member of the Federalist Party earlier this week, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. However, the Federalist Party is not recognized in California, so Kalasho is now officially a “decline to state party affiliation” voter.
Originally the party of founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, the Federalist Party advocated for a strong federal government but dissolved in the 1820s. In 2016, a new Federalist Party formed with a polar opposite view, touting smaller government.
Kalasho won office in 2016 with endorsement of the Democratic Party. But after allegations against Kalasho including sexual harassment, fraud, defamation, and threatening a reporter with an attack dog became public, as well as Kalasho’s prior guilty plea to worker’s compensation fraud, numerous members of the public have denounced Kalasho at Council meetings and called for his resignation.
When Union-Tribune reporter Karen Pearlman asked Kalasho for comments on the public testimony, he fired back an insulting text message refusing to be interviewed. He then leveled a savage assault on media, accusing Pearlman as well as East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery and ECM reporter Paul Kruze as “A bunch of dishonest cult like figures who push a radical agenda aimed at moving this country in a Socialist direction.” Later he claimed the publications are “Marxist.”
He claimed Pearlman “lied” in prior coverage but did not specify anything inaccurate in her story. He added, ‘You and fake journalists like you are a cancer to this great nation.”
Kalasho falsely claimed to have more followers on Facebook than the Union-Tribune. According to Facebook, the newspaper has 189,784 people following it; Ben Kalasho for City Council has just 21 followers. In addition he called ECM "nonexistent;" we average 6 million hits and 250,000 visits a month.
He ended his diatribe against Pearlman by stating, “I look forward to using the UT story as a pee-pee pad for my new pet rabbit,” then added “#AmericaFirst.” This slogan has been adopted by President Donald Trump but had previously long been used by the Ku Klux Klan, Snopes confirms.
Critics of Kalasho at the last City Council meeting ranged from conservative Republicans Jim Kelly and Gary Woods, both trustees on the Grossmont Union-High School District board, to members of the East County Progressive Democratic Club including James Elia, the Democratic nominee running for Assembly. But Kalasho wasn't there to hear it. It's unclear why he was absent, though Mark Lane, an activist with a federal lawsuit against Kalasho for suppressing free speech by deleted followers he doesn't like on social media, has suggested that Kalasho is dodging a process server.
Kalasho is running against Councilman Gary Kendrick for a Council seat in a newly created Fletcher Hills district, but would still keep his current seat through 2020 even if he loses, due to a quirk of the redistricting process.
Sunshine Horton, a public-spirited community activist and El Cajon resident, summed up the sentiments of many who have been bullied or insulted by Kalasho when she told the Council, “He’s one of those people, when he leaves the room, he brightens it.”