Retribution feared after harassment complaint
A podcast host said he feared retaliation Wednesday after receiving private messages he perceived to be threatening, as a result of his publishing an interview with a former campaign consultant who filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Sen. Scott Wilk.
A podcast host said he feared retaliation Wednesday after receiving private messages he perceived to be threatening, as a result of his publishing an interview with a former campaign consultant who filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Sen. Scott Wilk.
By Andrew Clark
Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

A podcast host said he feared retaliation Wednesday after receiving private messages he perceived to be threatening, as a result of his publishing an interview with Jennifer Van Laar, a former campaign consultant who filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Sen. Scott Wilk. The complaint, filed with the Assembly’s Rules Committee, accused them of coordinating to defame her after the 2016 election.

The Talk of Santa Clarita podcast host Stephen Daniels said he was “shaken” about the ramifications of posting the podcast after receiving messages on social media from Nathan Imhoff, a partner and creative director with Stark Social Media Agency.

Daniels published the podcast online Tuesday morning and was instantly contacted by several people, including Imhoff.

“I worry they’re going to come after me,” Daniels told The Signal. Daniels went on to say the messages lasted for about four hours.

“I kept saying, ‘Leave me alone,’” Daniels said. “It was like harassment.” Private messages shared with The Signal verified the claims Daniels made, which included Imhoff saying he could “cold cock” Daniels.   

Imhoff spoke with The Signal on Tuesday in a conversation he recorded, declining to give comment on the record. Imhoff read a message he sent to Daniels that said he “would never dream” of hurting Daniels, who later confirmed that account.

Imhoff’s business partner, Deanna Miller, called a Signal reporter Wednesday, but declined to make an on-record comment.

Daniels and Imhoff previously discussed Imhoff’s presence on social media during one of Daniels’ podcasts last March where Imhoff was a guest. When asked by Daniels what Imhoff’s criticism was with him, Imhoff said he no longer had a “beef” with Daniels.

“I think at the time, I felt like left-leaning people were trying to hijack all the conversations, if you will,” Imhoff said, adding that community groups on Facebook favor a liberal view.

“I’m a big enough man to admit I was absolutely wrong about you Stephen and this show,” he said at the time. “You have come up leaps and bounds and your production went up and you have been absolutely fair.”

Imhoff said on the podcast that he is a partner for a social media company (Stark Social Media), “but what I do there isn’t really social media per se, so I get the misconception, but yes, I am on Facebook a lot.”

Imhoff admitted to Daniels he can be harsh online in the podcast.

“I’ve been a little bit harsh sometimes,” he said. “I’ve actually apologized to people for maybe being a little too harsh, you being the example.”

Prior to starting his work highlighting veterans for The Signal, Bill Reynolds filed for a temporary restraining order against Imhoff for threats made online. The order was granted after a hearing in January 2015.

A search on Stark Social Media Agency’s website confirmed Imhoff is a co-founder. Among the company’s clients were Assemblyman Dante Acosta (for his City Council campaign), Sen. Scott Wilk, Cameron Smyth’s 2016 City Council campaign and the city of Santa Clarita, according to the Stark Social Media Agency website.

Officials with Wilk’s office did not return requests for comment. Smyth declined to comment. While the campaign logo for Rep. Steve Knight’s congressional campaign appears on Stark Social Media’s website, campaign spokesman Matt Rexroad said the congressman is contracted with a company called ELab.

Daniels interviewed Jennifer Van Laar, a senior contributor for conservative website RedState, because she filed the formal complaint with the Assembly’s Rules Committee in December.

“I am writing to report that Assemblyman Dante Acosta improperly used Assembly resources to attempt to harass and intimidate me in February 2017, while a defamation suit I filed against him was pending,” Van Laar wrote in the complaint. “In addition, he participated in a coordinated effort with Senator Scott Wilk and others to defame me and destroy my career.”

On a public Facebook thread Tuesday that has since been deleted, but was captured via screenshot by The Signal, Imhoff wrote to Daniels: “BTW, we quarantined Van Laar in the 2014 Knight campaign because she started hinting of a similar stunt.”

When asked what Imhoff could be referring to, Rexroad said he was not aware. Knight’s congressional spokesman Chris Jusuf said he had “no idea” what Imhoff meant, but said the congressman takes harassment allegations seriously, a stance backed by Van Laar in her complaint.

He is committed to treating all people with respect and takes all accusations of misconduct seriously,” Jusuf said.

In an interview with The Signal, Van Laar said she knew after the 2016 election that she was under retaliation from local Republican officials.

“You won’t even get asked,” she said, regarding job opportunities. “There’s still retaliation going on now.”

The Signal could not independently verify Van Laar’s claims. Assembly Rules Committee officials said no decision had been made on the complaint.

When asked by a political blog whether he and Acosta collaborated or discussed retaliating against Van Laar, Wilk said, “No.”

Wilk also said allegations he tampered with the business contracts of Van Laar’s business partner were “not true.”

Calls requesting an on-the-record comment from Acosta’s office were not returned.

About the author

Andrew Clark

Andrew Clark

A podcast host said he feared retaliation Wednesday after receiving private messages he perceived to be threatening, as a result of his publishing an interview with a former campaign consultant who filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Sen. Scott Wilk.
A podcast host said he feared retaliation Wednesday after receiving private messages he perceived to be threatening, as a result of his publishing an interview with a former campaign consultant who filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Sen. Scott Wilk.

Retribution feared after harassment complaint

A podcast host said he feared retaliation Wednesday after receiving private messages he perceived to be threatening, as a result of his publishing an interview with Jennifer Van Laar, a former campaign consultant who filed a formal complaint against Assemblyman Dante Acosta and Sen. Scott Wilk. The complaint, filed with the Assembly’s Rules Committee, accused them of coordinating to defame her after the 2016 election.

The Talk of Santa Clarita podcast host Stephen Daniels said he was “shaken” about the ramifications of posting the podcast after receiving messages on social media from Nathan Imhoff, a partner and creative director with Stark Social Media Agency.

Daniels published the podcast online Tuesday morning and was instantly contacted by several people, including Imhoff.

“I worry they’re going to come after me,” Daniels told The Signal. Daniels went on to say the messages lasted for about four hours.

“I kept saying, ‘Leave me alone,’” Daniels said. “It was like harassment.” Private messages shared with The Signal verified the claims Daniels made, which included Imhoff saying he could “cold cock” Daniels.   

Imhoff spoke with The Signal on Tuesday in a conversation he recorded, declining to give comment on the record. Imhoff read a message he sent to Daniels that said he “would never dream” of hurting Daniels, who later confirmed that account.

Imhoff’s business partner, Deanna Miller, called a Signal reporter Wednesday, but declined to make an on-record comment.

Daniels and Imhoff previously discussed Imhoff’s presence on social media during one of Daniels’ podcasts last March where Imhoff was a guest. When asked by Daniels what Imhoff’s criticism was with him, Imhoff said he no longer had a “beef” with Daniels.

“I think at the time, I felt like left-leaning people were trying to hijack all the conversations, if you will,” Imhoff said, adding that community groups on Facebook favor a liberal view.

“I’m a big enough man to admit I was absolutely wrong about you Stephen and this show,” he said at the time. “You have come up leaps and bounds and your production went up and you have been absolutely fair.”

Imhoff said on the podcast that he is a partner for a social media company (Stark Social Media), “but what I do there isn’t really social media per se, so I get the misconception, but yes, I am on Facebook a lot.”

Imhoff admitted to Daniels he can be harsh online in the podcast.

“I’ve been a little bit harsh sometimes,” he said. “I’ve actually apologized to people for maybe being a little too harsh, you being the example.”

Prior to starting his work highlighting veterans for The Signal, Bill Reynolds filed for a temporary restraining order against Imhoff for threats made online. The order was granted after a hearing in January 2015.

A search on Stark Social Media Agency’s website confirmed Imhoff is a co-founder. Among the company’s clients were Assemblyman Dante Acosta (for his City Council campaign), Sen. Scott Wilk, Cameron Smyth’s 2016 City Council campaign and the city of Santa Clarita, according to the Stark Social Media Agency website.

Officials with Wilk’s office did not return requests for comment. Smyth declined to comment. While the campaign logo for Rep. Steve Knight’s congressional campaign appears on Stark Social Media’s website, campaign spokesman Matt Rexroad said the congressman is contracted with a company called ELab.

Daniels interviewed Jennifer Van Laar, a senior contributor for conservative website RedState, because she filed the formal complaint with the Assembly’s Rules Committee in December.

“I am writing to report that Assemblyman Dante Acosta improperly used Assembly resources to attempt to harass and intimidate me in February 2017, while a defamation suit I filed against him was pending,” Van Laar wrote in the complaint. “In addition, he participated in a coordinated effort with Senator Scott Wilk and others to defame me and destroy my career.”

On a public Facebook thread Tuesday that has since been deleted, but was captured via screenshot by The Signal, Imhoff wrote to Daniels: “BTW, we quarantined Van Laar in the 2014 Knight campaign because she started hinting of a similar stunt.”

When asked what Imhoff could be referring to, Rexroad said he was not aware. Knight’s congressional spokesman Chris Jusuf said he had “no idea” what Imhoff meant, but said the congressman takes harassment allegations seriously, a stance backed by Van Laar in her complaint.

He is committed to treating all people with respect and takes all accusations of misconduct seriously,” Jusuf said.

In an interview with The Signal, Van Laar said she knew after the 2016 election that she was under retaliation from local Republican officials.

“You won’t even get asked,” she said, regarding job opportunities. “There’s still retaliation going on now.”

The Signal could not independently verify Van Laar’s claims. Assembly Rules Committee officials said no decision had been made on the complaint.

When asked by a political blog whether he and Acosta collaborated or discussed retaliating against Van Laar, Wilk said, “No.”

Wilk also said allegations he tampered with the business contracts of Van Laar’s business partner were “not true.”

Calls requesting an on-the-record comment from Acosta’s office were not returned.

Upcoming Events

Jan
12
Fri
all-day Domes – Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library
Domes – Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library
Jan 12 – May 11 all-day
Domes - Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Local resident Naomi Young, is the artist featured in the latest exhibit at the Old Town Newhall Library. The exhibit features original paintings and multimedia by Young, an artist born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel,[...]
Feb
1
Thu
all-day “The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarit... @ Valencia Library
“The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarit... @ Valencia Library
Feb 1 – Jun 1 all-day
“The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarita,” Art Exhibit @ Valencia Library  | Santa Clarita | California | United States
“THE GOLDEN OAKS OF SANTA CLARITA” ART EXHIBIT BY BRAD SERGI ON DISPLAY AT THE VALENCIA LIBRARY Library hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. – 5[...]
Feb
14
Wed
all-day Tickets Available Now for 41st A... @ Dodger Stadium
Tickets Available Now for 41st A... @ Dodger Stadium
Feb 14 – May 12 all-day
Tickets Available Now for 41st Annual SCV Dodger Day @ Dodger Stadium | Los Angeles | California | United States
SANTA CLARITA DODGER DAY TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Tickets Start at $25 and Benefit Local Schools and Non-Profits It’s time to step up to the plate! The Santa Clarita City Council invites residents to purchase[...]
Apr
19
Thu
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 19 – Apr 22 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
Apr
20
Fri
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
7:00 pm Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Apr 20 @ 7:00 pm
Hart High School Presents 'Bye, Bye Birdie' @ Hart High school Auditorium | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Spring Musical Coming April 2018! Hart High Theatre is proud to present Bye Bye Birdie! April 19, 20, 27 & 28 @ 7pm April 28 & 29 @ 1pm When the draft selects rock star[...]
Apr
21
Sat
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 21 – Apr 24 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
10:00 am Astronomy Day @ Valencia Library
Astronomy Day @ Valencia Library
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
The Local Group Astronomy Club and The Santa Clarita Public Library present our free annual Astronomy Day Celebration. We will be at the Valencia branch of the Santa Clarita Public Library from 10am to 3pm.[...]
10:00 am Resource Parents Needed to Foste... @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222
Resource Parents Needed to Foste... @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Resource Parents Needed to Foster or Foster-Adopt a Child @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222 | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Adoption is a meaningful way for individuals and couples to fulfill their dream of parenting.  There are approximately 64,000 children in foster care in California.  Los Angeles County’s foster care population exceeds 21,000 children with[...]
10:00 am The City of Lancaster’s 27th Ann... @ Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
The City of Lancaster’s 27th Ann... @ Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
The City of Lancaster’s 27th Annual California Poppy Festival, Sat & Sun @ Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park | Lancaster | California | United States
On April 21 and 22, the City of Lancaster will host the 27th annual California Poppy Festival™ at Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park (43063 10th Street West). Drawing more than 40,000 attendees and spanning 35[...]