San Diego Mayor Bob Filner agreed to resign today, following a special closed-door City Council meeting. His resignation is effective Aug. 30.
In a 7-0 vote, the council approved an agreement for Filner to resign in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment against him. The agreement places a cap of $98,000 that the city will pay for his outside legal counsel.
In his resignation statement, Filner was defiant. “I have never sexually harassed anyone,” he said. He accused the city of San Diego and the media of having a lynch-mob mentality.
Sexual harassment allegations leveled at Filner publicly surfaced six weeks ago. He was initially accused on July 9 by three longtime supporters — former Councilwoman Donna Frye and attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs. They outlined anonymous allegations and called for fellow Democrat Filner’s resignation.
Filner’s former communications chief, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed her lawsuit on July 22 seeking unspecified damages for sexual harassment. On Friday, McCormack’s attorney Gloria Allred said her client is not part of the settlement and opposes any agreement that requires the city to pay Filner’s legal expenses. She says the lawsuit will continue.
More than a dozen other women eventually stepped forward, accusing him of unwanted sexual advances.
Filner responded to the accusations by saying he needed help, but he refused to resign. He announced July 26 that he would undergo behavioral therapy at a psychological clinic. He said he had completed treatment on Aug. 10 and was seen back at City Hall on Aug. 20.
Filner, 70, a former San Diego State history professor, built his political career on a commitment to championing civil and veterans rights. He was first elected to public office in 1979 when he won a seat on the San Diego City Schools Board of Trustees. He served on the City Council and was elected to Congress in 1992, where he later served as chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. In 2012, he won election as San Diego’s mayor.
In addition to the sexual harassment scandal, Filner’s administration is facing scrutiny by the Department of Justice, which is is investigating a $100,000 donation made to the city of San Diego by developers Sunroad Centrum Partners. The money was returned when Filner discovered that a top-level administrator secured the donation in exchange for withdrawing a veto tying up a project Sunroad has been working on since 1997.
But the recent focus has largely been on Filner’s alleged sexual harassment, leading fellow lawmakers as well as San Diego citizens to pressure him to leave office.
The terms of his resignation have been controversial. Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Irene McCormack Jackson, raised questions about his agreement with San Diego city officials in a press conference yesterday. Among other things, Allred said that it would be reprehensible for the City Council to sign off on a deal in which public funds were paid to Filner in exchange for his resignation.
Here is a timeline of the Filner scandal from The Associated Press:
- Nov. 6, 2012: Filner, a 10-term congressman, is elected mayor. He is the first Democrat in 20 years to lead the nation’s eighth-largest city.
- June 20, 2013: Filner communications director Irene McCormack Jackson confronts Filner at a staff meeting about unwanted sexual advances. Allen Jones, Filner’s deputy chief of staff, quits.
- July 8: Filner’s fiancee, Bronwyn Ingram, says she ended their engagement, and later says the mayor sent sexually explicit messages to other women and set up dates in her presence.
- July 10: Donna Frye, a former city councilwoman and former Filner aide, calls for the mayor to resign, saying she received “credible evidence” that he had harassed more than one woman.
- July 11: Filner issues a public apology, saying he “diminished” the office of mayor, failed to respect women who work for him and intimidated them. The mayor says he is seeking professional help and pleads with voters for patience.
- July 15: Filner announces he won’t resign, saying he doesn’t believe he is guilty of sexual harassment and will be vindicated.
- July 22: McCormack files a sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner and the city, claiming, among other things, that the mayor asked her to work without panties. Filner rejects the allegations. Eventually, more than a dozen women will contend that Filner made unwanted advances, ranging from inappropriately seeking dates to groping them.
- July 25: The San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee votes to ask Filner to resign from office.
- July 26: The head of the Democratic National Committee calls on Filner to resign.
- July 26: Filner announces he will undergo two weeks of intensive behavioral therapy and return to work Aug. 19.
- July 28: California Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls on Filner to resign.
- July 30: The San Diego City Council votes to make Filner responsible for legal expenses in the sexual harassment suit.
- Aug. 2: Organizers behind dueling efforts to recall the mayor say they will join forces to gather petition signatures.
- Aug. 9: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, in an open letter to Filner asking that he resign, says the allegations have “shaken me to my core.”
- Aug. 10: Filner completes the therapy program earlier than expected but his lawyers say he will continue to receive outpatient counseling.
- Aug. 12: Filner issues a formal response to the recall effort, touting city progress and making no mention of the harassment allegations in an indication that he has no intention of resigning.
- Aug. 18: Organizers begin collecting signatures to recall Filner.
- Aug. 19: Filner meets with city officials, McCormack, her attorney Gloria Allred and a mediator to discuss settlement of the sexual harassment lawsuit.
- Aug. 21: City Attorney Jan Goldsmith announces a tentative agreement between Filner and the city, subject to City Council approval.
- Aug. 22: Allred says McCormack is not part of the settlement and would oppose any agreement that requires the city to pay Filner’s legal fees.
- Aug. 23: Following a closed-door San Diego City Council meeting, Filner agrees to resign.