Late last week, San Diego Bob Filner let everyone know that he was headed to therapy after seven women accused him of sexual harassment, hoping that a two-week stint getting help would let him keep his office. And now, it looks like the mayor wants the city of San Diego to pitch in, too, by paying his legal fees in a sexual harassment lawsuit.
That lawsuit was filed by attorney Gloria Allred on behalf of Filner's former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson. The request for the city to pay for Filner's defense, filed by attorney Harvey Berger, will go before the city council tomorrow afternoon for consideration in a closed session, But before then, there'll be a public comment section. It's unlikely, however, that Filner will prevail here: seven of the nine members of the council want Filner to resign. Council President Todd Gloria told The San Diego Union-Tribune that, as far as he's concerned, giving Filner city money to fight the lawsuit is off the table (emphasis ours):
"This is about personal behavior," he said. "We certainly provide defenses to city employees who have been caught up in legal issues as a result of their day-to-day work but obviously sexual harassment is not tolerated in the city. It's not necessary for the conduct of your work. I think it would send the wrong message to taxpayers that we'd be willing to pay for the defense."
Filner, 70, had a double-decade career in Congress before becoming San Diego's mayor at the beginning of the year. The Democrat came under fire a few weeks ago when a close friend of the mayor's held a press conference calling for Filner to resign. He didn't, and soon after the specifics of the allegations against him — to which he has more or less admitted — emerged. Seven women, most of whom either worked with Filner for the City or were otherwise well-known in the community, have come forward describing the Mayor's unwanted touching, kissing, and comments. While, at first, Filner tried to pass off his actions as the remnant of a previous generation, he's since apologized for that excuse, too.
Here's KPBS, speaking with four of the women accusing Filner of harassment:
Meanwhile, 67 percent of San Diegans want Filner to resign, according to a poll from 10News and The San Diego Union-Tribune. And 60 percent of the city's residents would like Filner recalled if he continues to refuse to resign. On Monday, a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition was filed in San Diego by one of two groups attempting to mount a successful recall challenge against the mayor. The petition will begin collecting signatures of San Diego voters in mid-August. Before submitting a completed petition, they'd need to show signatures from 15 percent of the city's population, or just over 100,000 residents. But as the LA Times explains, the effort to recall Filner may have to overcome a series of legal questions, first, even if one of the volunteer groups is able to get the needed signatures.