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San Diego Mayor Faces More Calls To Resign

Posted: July 17, 2013

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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is facing growing calls for his resignation following sexual harassment allegations lodged against him. One of them came from his ex-fiancee.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner in the video statement he released last week.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner in the video statement he released last week.

San Diego voters knew that Bob Filner could act like a jerk on occasion. But in 2012, they elected him mayor anyway.

Now, though, Filner's behavior may have crossed a threshold that few politicians can recover from.

The Democrat is facing numerous accusations of sexual harassment, and growing calls for him to step down from office.

At a press conference on Monday, attorneys Marco Gonzalez, Cory Briggs and former council member Donna Frye — all former Filner supporters — revealed the details of the allegations from three women who wish to remain anonymous.

According to statements from the women, one campaign volunteer said the mayor "[jammed] his tongue down her throat" and groped her; a constituent said that he kissed her and asked her on a date; a staffer said that he "grabbed her ass and touched her chest."

The women described a "Filner dance" they invented to avoid his advances and the "Filner headlock" he would put them in. According to Gonzalez, the mayor said things like, "They would do a better job on that floor if they worked without their panties on."

Just when it seemed it couldn't get worse, Filner's former fiancee, Bronwyn Ingram, came forward with the reasoning for their split after realizing an email she sent to one of Filner's security personnel would be released via a public records request.

"Bob's constant infidelities which are being flaunted in my face lately along with his abusiveness and disrespect has become absolutely intolerable," she wrote in the email.

In a statement to KPBS, Ingram asked him to resign. "Bob's behavior continued to become more aggressive; standard decorum seemed to disappear," she stated. "Bob recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages and setting up dates while in my presence and within my line of vision."

Ingram isn't the only one who thinks he should step down. So do several City Council members and local members of Congress. They're joined by the San Diego National Organization for Women.

And the results of a SurveyUSA poll from Friday say 59 percent of San Diego voters think the mayor should go.

In response to the initial allegations, Filner didn't deny any of the incidents. He released a video last week apologizing: "I've reached into my heart and soul and realized that I must and will change my behavior. ... I am also humble to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach."

He has since hired an attorney, Harvey Berger, and made Walt Ekard interim chief operating officer.

Filner's abrasive personality has gotten him in trouble in the past. In 2007, an airport employee claimed in a criminal complaint that Filner, then a congressman, screamed at and pushed her. The House Ethics Committee ultimately dropped the investigation, although Filner had to pay $100 and send an apology letter. The incident became grist for an emotional 2012 attack ad by Filner's Republican opponent, Carl Demaio, which featured the airport employee recounting how she would "never forget he told me 'you can't stop me.' "

The San Diego County Democratic leadership, whose central committee is made up of around 60 members, will meet Thursday evening to determine an official response. Filner, who has refused to resign and insists he is innocent of sexual harassment, has been invited to attend.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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