Mayor (and former congressman) Bob Filner of San Diego is having what one might call a difficult month.
His fiancée broke up with him and new allegations of sexual harassment from his fellow Democrats have cropped up. Filner’s fiancée broke off their engagement because, according to her, he “recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages” and scheduling dates in front of her. His fellow Democrats, including allies and supporters, the local Republican Party, his former fiancée, and a majority of the people of San Diego are now demanding that Filner do the right thing and step down as mayor. However Filner is refusing and intends to stay in office.
The public message from Democrats to Filner seems to be: “For the good of the Democratic Party, please resign.” Filner certainly is not doing his party any favors by sticking around, and Democrats are not doing themselves any favors allowing this man to continue serving as a public official. Democrats claim to be the party for women, but they sure have an odd way of backing that claim up. Filner, who claims to be a staunch supporter of women’s rights, seems to include his right to grope women, staffer and constituent alike. Why has the Democratic Party looked the other way for at least two years (going back to when Filner was a congressman) when these allegations of sexual harassment were first known, and exposed by his fellow Democrats, no less? One former ally, former Democratic San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye, went as far as saying, “Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any women to approach.”
In some ways, the local Democratic Party leadership’s response to the Filner sexual harassment controversy is even more puzzling. Former San Diego County Party Chairman Jess Durfee asserts that he met with Filner two years ago to get Filner’s side of the story; Durfee was then assured by Filner nothing was amiss. Fast forward two years and Filner is admitting he mistreated women, but still claiming he’s done nothing illegal. Even more puzzling was local Democratic Party Chairwoman Francine Busby’s response to the Filner debacle: “I just know that these stories have been around and that he has said things that have been inappropriate.” As a Democratic Party leader and a woman, she should have taken these allegations more seriously.
Democrats should have initiated an investigation when these serious claims first surfaced two year ago. Unfortunately Filner, who lied, was taken at his word. San Diego and the country deserves better than a politician who mistreats people, especially women, so grossly.