Stay Classy, San Diego: Mayor's Office Looks Like It's Imploding (Again) [UPDATED]
Bob Filner has only been the mayor of San Diego for a little over six months, but it's been a bumpy ride. This week things got even bumpier for the 70-year-old former congressional representative, as some of his biggest supporters have defected.
This week his fiancée Bronwyn Ingram sent out an e-mail to her friends and Filner supporters, announcing that the couple were calling it quits. She wrote that she would also stepping down from her work on homelessness in his office: “I am extremely disappointed and heartbroken, both for what Team First Lady could have accomplished, and for me, personally; however, this is the only action I can take given the devolvement of our personal relationship."
And now some of Filner's close, Democratic supporters are calling for Filner to step down from his position in response to claims that he sexually harassed "numerous" women who worked in his office, according to KPBS. (It's not clear, however, whether the mayor's break-up with his fiancée has anything to do with the sexual harassment claims.)
Former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye, attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs, each delivered letters (here, here and here, respectively) to Filner requesting his immediate resignation Wednesday. They held a press conference this morning making the same request. Frye was a member of Filner’s staff until she resigned in April. Both Briggs and Gonzalez have been allies with Filner in some high-profile environmental cases.
None of these former supporters mentioned any specifics about the sexual harassment claims, such as how many women it affected or the nature of the harassment. Frye says she was not a victim but that she is speaking on behalf of women who have not come forward "out of fear of retribution or the possibility of a media circus where they could be twice victimized."
So far there hasn't been word from Filner's office on the allegations:
Filner has had several resignations on his mayoral staff since his term began, such as the deputy chief of staff and the communications director, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Currently, Filner is also being investigated by federal officials over a deal that he made with a land developer. Filner was opposed to a land-use project, but he changed his mind—after the group Sunroad Enterprises donated $100,000 to two of his pet projects. It looked like a quid pro quo, and he ended up giving money back.
San Diego's mayoral office has had a turbulent history. Mayor Dick Murphy resigned in 2005 not long after he was named by Time Magazine one of the worst mayors in the country for mishandling a pension fund crisis. His replacement Michael Zucchet was convicted in a City Hall corruption case his first Monday in office. In 1985, Mayor Roger Hedgecock resigned after his felony conviction for accepting tens of thousands of dollars in illegal 1983 campaign donations. Maureen O'Connor finished her term of office as mayor in 1992 without scandal, but in the years since she has gambled away a reported $1 billion of her late husband's fortune.
UPDATE, 4:26 P.M.: Filner has issued an apology and says he needs help, the Associated Press reports.
"If my behavior doesn't change, I cannot succeed in leading our city," Filner said in a statement.
"You have every right to be disappointed in me. I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city's future can be realized," he said.
Donna Frye, a former councilwoman and once one of his key supporters said at today's press conference that calling for Filner's resignation is one of the most difficult decisions she has ever made. After hearing several victims' accounts firsthand, she said, "I believe what they have told me, and they need to know that they are not alone. There are people who support and care about them."