Editor's note: Since this post originally ran in August, Bob Filner has resigned as mayor of San Diego. On October 15, he pleaded guilty to one count of felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery. Under a plea agreement, he will receive three years of probation and three months of house arrest.
He was one of the early members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. From 2007 to 2011 he chaired the House Veteran's Affairs Committee. He represented an area that includes almost all of California's border with Mexico. And now, at 70, he is mayor of San Diego.
Bob Filner may have begun his political life fighting for a just society as a Freedom Rider in the summer of 1961, but the former 10-term congressman, who entered a treatment facility for a two-week stay on Monday following accusations of sexual harassment, seems destined to end it in ignominy, surrounded by the stench of corruption and moral turpitude.
There is something wrong with Bob Filner, and whatever it is, two weeks of intensive therapy won't fix it. He is being sued for sexual harassment by his former communications director. The San Diego City Council voted unanimously to sue him to recover any costs associated with that lawsuit. City attorneys have ruled he can't be alone with a woman anymore while on city business for liability reasons. Democrats and Republicans in San Diego want him gone.
He should go. This is not a question about private conduct, but of misuse of public power.
Fresh allegations out Wednesday from two survivors of military sexual assault who sought Filner's aid while he was in Congress accuse him of using his power to try to take advantage of women who were at their most vulnerable. The president of the National Women's Veterans Association of America, which supports survivors of military sexual assault, says he made a play with seven or eight women who were part of her group while they were trying to get him to take their issue seriously.
"He went to dinners, asked women out to dinners, grabbed breasts, buttocks. The full gamut. Everything that is complete violation of what we stand for," Tara Jones told CNN. "He's a sexual predator. And he used this organization for his own personal agenda."
The latest allegations of inappropriate behavior come on top of accusations from 11 other women, bringing the total of on-the-record named accusers to 13 in incidents dating to 2009. That is some Bob Packwood territory. Filner's former fiancee has also accused him of verbally abusive behavior and blatant and recent sexting, and dumped him in the wake of the scandal.
"I brought this on through my own personal frailties, and the biggest monster right now is, you know, inside me, which we will deal with,'' Filner told Univision before entering treatment. "I'm clearly doing something wrong," he acknowledged earlier.
If you have not been following this story closely, here is what you need to know to get up to speed. Read the stories of the 13 women, as excerpted from reports over the past three weeks.
1. Irene McCormack Jackson, as reported by KPBS:
Reading in a clear and powerful voice from a prepared text, McCormack Jackson said the day she was named Filner's communications director -- a job for which she took a $50,000 per year pay cut -- was one of the proudest of her career. But the past six months proved to be the worst period of her working life, she said. (She earned $125,000 annually at the city.)
The mayor treated women working for him as either sexual objects or idiots, said McCormack Jackson, who did not take reporters' questions.
She described Filner's penchant for putting her into a headlock and pulling her about, while whispering sexually explicit comments in her ear. She said the mayor often told her he loved her, wanted to kiss her, told her he wanted to see her naked and that she should work without panties at City Hall; and that he wanted to "consummate their relationship."
"I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women,'' she said.
Fink said her troubling encounter with Filner happened when she was staffing him at a fundraising dinner. The Democratic congressman was making amends to the LGBT community, she said, for his "yes" vote years earlier on the highly controversial Defense of Marriage Act.
Her job was to escort Filner from table to table during the dinner. At one point, Fink said, an attendee singled her out for praise saying, "this girl has worked her ass off for you."
At that, Fink said, Filner told her to turn around.
"As a staffer, I know it sounds silly to say that you just do it, but you just do it," Fink said.
Once she'd turned, Fink said, Filner "took his hands, patted my posterior, laughed, and said: 'No, it's still there!'"
For a moment, Fink said, she was in shock, "and it certainly gave the people at the table pause."
She then escorted Filner to the next table. Moments later, Fink said, one guest tried to gently upbraid the congressman, telling him Fink was not his wife and that he shouldn't treat a woman like that. Filner brushed it off.
Fink said the incident left her "in disbelief that it could have happened."
She needed a few days to process it. But Fink said, "the more I thought about it, the more upset I became."