CARLSBAD — A legal battle is brewing between Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, two residents and one former resident.
Schumacher filed a temporary civil harassment restraining order against Anthony “Tony” Bona, Larry Posner and Noel Breen on Sept. 10. A stay-away order was granted and a court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15 to determine if the restraining order will be permanent.
According to the request, Schumacher said Bona “had intentions of forcing me to leave my home,” along with intentions to “surveil me and post such surveillance online.”
Bona, Posner and Breen all declined to comment, directing questions to legal counsel. On Carl DeMaio’s radio program, Bona said he suggested Schumacher be recalled and the next day discovered the order against him.
“I posted on Facebook we want to recall Cori Schumacher,” Bona told DeMaio. “I post on the 8th or 9th and on the 10th she drops the papers on me. You draw your own conclusions.”
Schumacher’s report states a number of “veiled threats” against her, including more recent threats by Bona “to force me to leave my home and stalking, after over a year of consistent, increasingly obsessive and distressing activity directed at me and those who publicly associate with me.”
Schumacher submitted numerous social media posts with the complaint, one showing Bona questioning whether the councilwoman lives in Carlsbad, which she does.
In another post, Bona claims he saw Schumacher in a bar, while Schumacher revealed Bona was banned from the social media site Nextdoor for abusive behavior.
However, the Coast News later verified the post of Bona seeing Schumacher in a bar was not directed at Schumacher. According to a direct message from a source in possession of the message, Bona communicated with a man.
Schumacher did not respond to a request for comment.
“The recent shift in A. Bona’s intensity not only coincide with being banned from Nextdoor but also coincided with linking up with two individuals on Facebook — Lawrence ‘Larry” Posner and Noel K. Breen,” according to the court filing. “Together, their collective behavior has become increasingly concerning within the time period noted (July toSept).”
All three have been critical of Schumacher’s policies and actions on the council whether through public comment or social media posts. Bona and Posner have each called out Schumacher’s “quid-pro-quo” with labor unions regarding more than $40,000 in campaign donations leading to an attempt to secure a project labor agreement with the Clean Energy Alliance.
Steven Brumer, Posner’s San Diego-based attorney, said his client hasn’t done anything wrong and is shocked by Schumacher including Posner in the TRO.
“We are, frankly, surprised that a public figure like Ms. Schumacher, or anybody else, would file a request for a restraining order against a constituent who has done nothing to create any kind of threat against her,” Brumer said. “He didn’t do anything. I think it was inappropriate for Cori to file this and include Larry. It’s very surprising … and disappoint(ing) as well.”
Linda Breen, however, said Schumacher’s actions equal an attempt at a strategic lawsuit against public participation, also known as SLAAP. She strenuously denies her husband made any threat toward Schumacher, who attached screenshots in the filing of Bona saying people should surveil Schumacher.
Linda Breen said Schumacher’s actions are nothing short of intimidation to quash public dissent and to harass Noel Breen for writing critical blogs about Schumacher. Linda Breen noted how she and her husband were publicly “attacked” by Schumacher in 2019 after Linda Breen unsuccessfully ran for the City Council seat in District 1.
Additionally, Amanda Mascia, Schumacher’s former campaign manager, Lisa McKethan and Sue Alderson attempted to serve Noel Breen, who moved away from Carlsbad two years ago, with three TROs in late 2018. A judge later dismissed the case with prejudice in January 2019, according to court records.
“He’s not alleged to have done anything to hurt a person and he’s actually not even alleged in these papers to have made any threats,” Linda Breen said on Facebook Live. “The First Amendment clearly protects his freedom of association and his freedom of expression. Schumacher has attacked both of these rights with absolutely no basis.”
As for Posner, Schumacher submitted two posts to the court. One is regarding a post about “Where’s Waldo,” which states that with high-tech surveillance, it’s easier to play “Where’s Cori?” in reference to if she lives in the city.
Regarding, a post by Posner on a story about racism, QAnon and the “cold civil war” by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Posner said, “and with everyone armed to the teeth, it’s just a matter of time before we have a tragic shooting and that so (sic) scary.”
Bona, meanwhile, has railed against Schumacher for more than a year and recently began a YouTube channel as a political commentator several months ago. His videos call out Schumacher’s ties to unions, her police reforms, ethics and censoring free speech.
Schumacher’s report, meanwhile, stated Bona also submitted a request to the city for her phone number. Bona emailed the city under a Public Records Request for the phone if it was paid for by the city. The city denied the request.
Bona, who’s unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, said he is afraid of being turned down for a job due to Schumacher’s filing, a sentiment he shared in a video posted on Sept. 20. The video also shows him wearing Duct Tape over his mouth, a symbol of being silenced for his political viewpoints.
On Sept. 14, DeMaio took to his radio program, blasting Schumacher for filing the complaint. He and co-host Lou Penrose took issue with several of Schumacher’s actions, including her relationship with labor unions, the proposed project labor agreement with the Clean Energy Alliance and her overall policy positions.
“I’m trying to get a job and I’m pretty sure having a TRO doesn’t help my chances of gainful employment,” Bona said on the show.
DeMaio chastised Schumacher for the filing, saying the court system is suffering from backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DeMaio and Penrose said it amounts to an abuse of the court system and intimidation, with Bona saying the claim was filed after he called for Schumacher to be recalled.
“It’s already delayed with real cases,” DeMaio said of the courts. “She decides to butt in line in front of battered wives, battered girlfriends … true victims of violence that need restraining orders. Why? Because three constituents have been critical of her on social media.”