SD Democratic Party votes to ask for Filner's resignation
Posted: Jul 25, 2013 7:26 AM Updated: Jul 25, 2013 8:13 PM
SAN DIEGO (AP) - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's own political party is calling on him to resign after seven women publicly identified themselves as targets of his alleged sexual advances.
The San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee voted 34-6 Thursday night to ask the city's first Democratic mayor in 20 years to leave office.
The vote comes one week after the committee deadlocked 24-24 on the question. The earlier vote came before any woman had publicly identified herself.
The audience included political consultant Laura Fink, who says Filner patted her buttocks in 2005 when he was congressman and she was his deputy campaign manager. She says she is gratified by the vote.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. For an earlier story, read below.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A day after two more women accused him of sexual harassment, the San Diego County Democratic Party Thursday will meet for the second time to work out its stance on the political future of embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Party committee members met last Thursday for more than three hours but failed to reach a consensus on whether to support the 70-year-old Filner, whose resignation is being clamored for by several local office holders and civic leaders, both Democrat and Republican.
In a statement released after last week's meeting, committee chairwoman Francine Busby said that, although committee members were divided, there would be grounds for Filner's resignation if the sexual harassment allegations turn out to be true.
"I can share some broad areas of agreement among Democratic Party leaders," she said. "We unequivocally condemn sexual harassment and workplace intimidation. We abhor the actions he is alleged to have taken against women, even as we recognize that all the individuals involved have a legal right to fair hearing."
Filner was first publicly accused of sexual harassment about two weeks ago, when three of his former political allies held a joint news conference to announce they had evidence he had engaged in it and that he should step down immediately. The trio, which included former Councilwoman Donna Frye, initially declined to discuss specific allegations, citing a need for privacy for the women involved.
On Monday, Filner's former communications director became the first woman to publicly describe his allegedly offensive conduct.
Irene McCormack Jackson, 57, said that while she worked in the mayor's office, Filner held her in a headlock while demanding kisses. She also alleged the mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked, that he could not wait to consummate their relationship, and that he wanted to marry her.
Jackson has filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against Filner and the city. It seeks unspecified damages. She is being represented by high-profile Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who himself has feuded with the mayor on several occasions, said his office will defend the city, while Filner will be represented by lawyer Harvey Berger, possibly at the city's expense.
Pending the outcome of the lawsuit, Filner is restricted from meeting alone with women at city facilities.
"At my request, the mayor is not to meet with women alone at city facilities," Goldsmith said. "That was agreed to by his lawyer, and it is being enforced by the chief of staff, deputy chief of staff. The chief of police is also aware of that and has made certain commitments."
After Jackson came forward, a former campaign staffer said Filner patted her bottom at a 2005 fundraising event, when he was a congressman. Laura Fink said she demanded an apology from Filner in an email and received a mumbled "I'm sorry" a couple of days later.
Filner's third alleged victim is San Diego Unified School District psychologist Morgan Rose, who said she met with Filner in 2009 at a restaurant across from his congressional office to discuss her initiative dedicated to the well-being of America's children. She said that during their discussion, he told her "your eyes have bewitched me" and moved next to her.
Rose said Filner tried to kiss her four times and only stopped when he received a phone call. She quoted him as saying he wouldn't budge until she kissed him.
Rose said she has called a hotline set up by the Sheriff's Department to take complaints against the mayor. The department has been designated as the lead law enforcement agency for investigating the claims.
Filner initially apologized for mistreating women in his office, admitting that he failed to fully respect the women who work for him and with him and that at times, he intimidated them. Later, he said his actions did not constitute sexual harassment.
In rebuffing calls for his resignation, Filner, who was elected last November, said he's working with professionals to make changes in his behavior and he wants an opportunity to prove he's capable of change.
Following Monday's announcement from Jackson, Filner said in a statement that he was saddened by the charges that were leveled against him.
"Once due process is allowed to unfold, I am certain there will be a better understanding of this situation," he said.
He also asked San Diegans to avoid a rush to judgment.
"I do not believe these claims are valid," Filner said. "This is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail."