San Diego Mayor Resigns Under Cloud of Sexual Misconduct

Bob Filner apologized for his actions, but also said he was the victim of a political "lynch mob"

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Bill Wechter / Getty Images

Mayor Bob Filner, at a press conference in San Diego on July 26, 2013, announces his intention to seek professional help following sexual-harassment allegations.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on Friday finally bowed to the calls for his resignation, which have been mounting for weeks as numerous women accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior. But to the bitter end, he insisted the political downfall was worse punishment than he deserved.

“It certainly was never my intention to be a mayor who went out like this,” Filner said in announcing that, as part of a deal with city officials, he would leave office Aug. 30.

Filner, who has been accused of inappropriate behavior by 18 women over the past six weeks, apologized to the city. He apologized to his estranged fiancée. And he apologized to the women who had come forward.

“I had no intention to be offensive, to violate any physical or emotional space,” he said before a packed room in the city council’s chambers. “I was trying to establish personal relationships but the combination of awkwardness and hubris led to behavior that many found offensive.”

Still, the 70-year-old Democrat went out asserting that what was admittedly bad behavior had been blown out of proportion by his political opponents and the media. The first Democrat to hold the office in decades, Filner accused those opposed to his progressive agenda of inciting a movement against him.

“I am responsible for providing the ammunition,” he said, “but there are well-organized interests who have run this city for 50 years who pointed the gun, and the media and their political agents pulled the trigger.”

Irene McCormack-Jackson, the mayor’s former communications director, is suing Filner and the city for sexual harassment. It was unclear exactly how the lawsuit, filed by the prominent lawyer Gloria Allred, would fit into the picture. On Thursday, Allred held a news conference and advised the city not to pay the mayor’s bills.

“We do not know the details of the reported deal,” she said, “and we have not approved it.”

A San Diego ABC affiliate reported Friday that in mediation talks, Allred had sought a $1.5 million settlement for her client, who has alleged that Filner asked her to come to work without wearing her “panties” and repeatedly forced her into contact using a maneuver women have dubbed the “Filner headlock.”

Before Filner spoke, the city attorney said the agreement that paved the way for Filner’s resignation includes the city dismissing a complaint against Filner and aiding in his defense, though there will be a $98,000 cap on the amount the city will spend defending the mayor. Filner said that nothing he did ever rose to the level of sexual harassment and that if the public knew all the facts, he would be vindicated.

“The hysteria that has been created… is the hysteria of a lynch mob,” he said. “Democracy needs due process. San Diego needs due process.”

Supporters cheered him on, though the room remained largely silent. Less than an hour before, the same room had been filled with citizens loudly expressing support or disdain for the mayor before the city council adjourned to consider the deal in a closed-door meeting. Many residents expressed frustration that they were commenting blindly; at that point, none of the terms reached after three days of closed-door mediation among Filner and city officials had been made public.

“Do not let this man off. Do not pay a dime of taxpayer money to this man,” one said.

“He is an honorable person who did a lot for me and my community,” said another.

As dozens of citizens cycled past the microphone, the crowd defied instructions to be quiet. They clapped and cheered and booed as they listened to demands for justice, allegations of Republican conspiracies and laments about what a laughing stock San Diego had become.

Some cried, thanking the former congressman and first-term mayor for his public service. Others waved petitions, covered in signatures from residents supporting a now-moot recall election. One of the 18 women appeared, with her voice wavering. “Today I stand shoulder to shoulder with the other women who have come forward asking the mayor to resign,” said the woman, political consultant Laura Fink.

After Filner finished what may have been his final public words as mayor of San Diego, he went to shake the hand of one citizen who had spoken out on the mayor’s behalf earlier that afternoon.

“We will always remember those that stood with us,” that man had said. “It’s time to unite, forgive and move the city forward.”

18 comments
chapalody
chapalody

Talk about a war on women. Filner said I was trying to establish personal relationships. Is that what he calls it. Ask the 18 women is that how they see it. Ask the supporters of Filner are the women telling the truth or are they lying. Is this another phony scandal? It got so bad, the women who tolerated this behavior for the party couldn't take it anymore and came forward. Filner carried on because he knew the women thought first of the party and themselves last. This is how Democrats have treated women for years and years. If a Democrat does it, it's OK.

ddmarsh
ddmarsh

It isn't very surprising that after two weeks of "intensive behaviorial therapy"  Mr. Filner was still incapable of admitting he sexually harassed a number of women.  But then, why would he admit to that when he knows there is a civil lawsuit pending (and probably many more) against him? The problem as I see it, at his age (70) this isn't just something that has occurred over the past few years.  This man has probably been a " sexual predator" for decades.  Years ago this is not something that would have ever come out in the media; it would have been hushed up and the women would have been quiet, fearing retaliation.  Those times have changed, thank goodness!

paulejb
paulejb

He'll be back. Sexual harassment is a resume enhancer for cads such as Clinton, Spitzer, Weiner and Filner.

sacredh
sacredh

"Filner said that nothing he did ever rose to the level of sexual harassment and that if the public knew all the facts, he would be vindicated."

Of course he said that. He is facing legal prosecution. Admitting that he sexually harrassed the women could be used as evidence in any upcoming trial.

sweetpotato
sweetpotato

Let see the media go after republican Carl DeMaio caught maturbating in the public restroom several times at city hall while he was a councilman who run against Filner and now wants to run for office again. The media cover up is obvious but not for long.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Filner said that nothing he did ever rose to the level of sexual harassment and that if the public knew all the facts, he would be vindicated.

Well Bob , you can express your views now .

Openminded1
Openminded1

just a stupid old man with delusions of power and a small shriveled up penis who is A, weiners number 1 fan. There club is growing in the political arena.

KeithCameron
KeithCameron

This guy is a pig and the Democrats should have driven him from office weeks ago!

ddmarsh
ddmarsh

@ChuckJolley @TIMEPolitics 

Why would he apologize for his actions but then back it up by saying he did nothing wrong and being defiant?  If he felt he was wrongly accused, he should have continued to fight to stay in office and should have fought a valiant fight. He was quoted as saying he was trying to "establish personal relationships" but the "awkwardness and hubris led to behavior that many found offensive". The word "hubris" is defined as exaggerated pride, (exaggerated self-confidence), and arrogrance. So, Mr. Filner put a misnomer in his speech, saying one thing but meaning another?  Was putting his hand on a woman's butt, slurping a woman's face, or asking someone to bed with him an attempt ro establish a "personal relationship"?  Sounds like typical sociopathic behavior to me!  Again, the man is a "sexual predator"!

sweetpotato
sweetpotato

What facts?  nothing was ever proven.

sweetpotato
sweetpotato

You're being real closeminded and stupid.

sweetpotato
sweetpotato

To bad Vitter and others are still in office...real bull.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@sweetpotato Well sweetpotato anyone with that name can not be to smart, You sound like maybe the one dummy who fell for the old man,s advances did you like that shriveled penis?

Openminded1
Openminded1

@sweetpotato You must work for the city of san diego Potato how many times did you sit on the dirty old mans lap?