It’s Bill Clinton all over again.
When Clinton was President, Democrats — including the über feminists of the National Organization for Women — refused to condemn or even criticize him as woman after woman came forth with accounts of being groped, kissed, and raped by Clinton, as well as extramarital affairs.
70-year-old Bob Filner is the Democrat Mayor of San Diego, and a former San Diego City councilman and former U.S. Congressman for California’s 51st District (2003-2012). Before that, he was a history professor at San Diego State University for more than 20 years.
According to Steve Frank’s California Political News & Views, San Diego’s leading Democrats, including the chairman of the San Diego Democrat Party, had known all about Filner’s sexual harassment of women months before Filner was elected mayor of the Southern California city, but they kept quiet about it.
Now, as detailed allegations emerged of Filner’s unwanted sexual advances toward women — including French kisses, groping, and derogatory comments — the Dems are changing their tune.
Craig Gustafson and Karen Kucher report for the San Diego Union Tribune, July 15, 2013, that Filner’s former political allies, led by ex-City Councilwoman Donna Frye, are providing explicit details about encounters that at least three unnamed women have had with Filner. Frye now says the mayor’s harassment makes him “tragically unsafe for any woman to approach.”
The allegations include:
- A campaign volunteer who said Filner kissed her — “jamming his tongue down her throat” — on a public sidewalk and later groped her under her bra when she drove him back to his office.
- A constituent who attended one of Filner’s monthly meet-and-greet events at City Hall, said the mayor took her to an enclosed area, dismissed a staff member, asked her out on a date and then grabbed and kissed her. She left immediately.
- A mayoral staffer, who had spent six months working for Filner, complained that “he grabbed her ass and touched her chest.”
The latest revelations have Filner, 70, fighting for his political life as more and more fellow Democrats call for his resignation and a U-T San Diego/10News poll on Saturday — before Monday’s lurid details were revealed — showed 59% percent of San Diego residents feel the same way.
Filner has been under siege since Wednesday when former allies — Frye, attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs — came forward with allegations that he sexually harassed women. They said they represented numerous women too afraid to come forward and called on Filner to resign so those women wouldn’t have to be “twice victimized” by the ongoing media circus.
Attorney Marco Gonzalez, who joined Frye at a morning news conference and represents the mayoral staffer, said: “There is no circumstance by which it would be appropriate for the mayor to enter into an elevator with my client or any person who he employs and to tell them that they would do a better job on that floor if they worked without their panties on.”
Gonzalez also described what he called the “Filner headlock” in which the mayor would put his arm around a woman’s neck to pull her aside to tell her he wanted to speak with her alonem and the “Filner dance” that women would do to try to avoid being kissed by the mayor.
Filner issued a public apology Thursday for “inappropriate and wrong” treatment of women, but his statements since then have grown increasing defiant as he refuses to resign. He has hired local attorney Harvey Berger of Pope, Berger & Williams, which specializes in employment law, to represent him.
Meanwhile, Filner’s ex-fiancée, Bronwyn Ingram, reluctantly came forward Monday with her explanation for their split after it became clear an email she’d sent to a San Diego police officer was going to be made public through a Public Records Act request.
In the July 8 email, which she provided to U-T San Diego, Ingram wrote to Officer John Liening, a member of Filner’s security detail, to inform him of her decision to break up with Filner and abandon her role as a homeless advocate: “I have spent many, many soul-searching hours in coming to this decision. It saddens me beyond words. But I am only human and Bob’s constant infidelities which are being flaunted in my face lately along with his abusiveness and disrespect has become absolutely intolerable.”
In a statement to news outlets, Ingram said she had no direct knowledge of sexual harassment allegations against Filner but said the numerous controversies surrounding the Mayor’s Office have impaired his ability to lead and he should resign.
Ingram, 48, announced her split with Filner a week ago after more than three years together. Responding to a question from U-T San Diego if she had any concerns about Filner’s mental health, she said Filner hadn’t been examined by a doctor in a long time despite her repeated insistence. Asked if her concerns were about his mental or physical capabilities, she replied, “Both.”
At least 14 employees on Filner’s staff have quit or transferred since he took office in December. The most notable was Chief of Staff Vince Hall who quit Friday saying he felt he had to step down “as a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality.”
Given Filner’s reluctance to resign, the next step in this ongoing saga could be the formal filing of a claim against him or the launch of a recall effort to oust him from office.
UPDATE (Aug. 25, 2013):
On August 23, 2013, still insisting he’d never sexually harassed anyone and portraying himself a victim of a “lynch mob,” Bob Filner finally said he will leaving his mayoral office at the end of the month. But his resignation came only after he’d successfully negotiated a deal with the San Diego City Council for the city to pay his legal fees and any monetary settlements he has to give his accusers. The agreement is expected to cost the city of San Diego several hundred thousand dollars, according to the Los Angeles Times.
18 women have come forward claiming they are the victims of Filner’s sex harassment, including a great grandmother, 67-year-old Peggy Shannon (pic below). Filner’s harassment of Shannon is evidence that sexual harassment is not about sex. It’s about power — the power to humiliate and intimidate.