News & Politics

San Diego Mayor Finally Steps Down Amid Numerous Sexual Harassment Allegations

Mayor Bob Filner's six-month tenure was marred by significant controversy and sliminess.

San Diego's enfant terrible, Mayor Bob Filner, has finally agreed to resign as part of a deal reached with city officials this week. The announcement comes as no surprise to those following Filner's questionable tenure as city mayor. The news comes six weeks after Filner was first accused of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances from women in his inner circle. In the weeks since the first allegation, more than a dozen women have come forward with similar stories of inappropriate conduct. 

Filner officially admitted to disrespecting women, often intimidating them knowingly with sexual advances, and has stated that he needs help, and plans to enter a treatment program for an undisclosed disorder immediately upon stepping down. Filner, who was already under investigation for apparently cooperating in an alleged "pay to play" scheme with housing developers in the greater San Diego area, all but disappeared from the public eye when the allegations of harassment hit three weeks ago. On Monday, he surfaced in order to have an intensive closed-door sit-down with city officials. After three days of negotiations, officials reached a deal with Filner.

Filner is expected to make the official announcement of his resignation on Friday, so until he does all deals reached are tentative at best. (He has allegedly already refused to adhere to all the terms of the deal he made with the Tourism Marketing District). Once Filner has officially resigned, San Diego will enter a period of interim leadership, with council president Todd Gloria taking on the role of acting mayor as per the city charter. There could be at least one primary special election with 60 to 90 days. 

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The numerous (close to 20 women have come forward) allegations of sexual misconduct come along a short term marred with seemingly endless controversy of all kinds. In April, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's executive assistant went on the record with what he viewed as racially insensitive remarks Filner had repeatedly made. Soon after the real estate scandal broke, Filner was confronted with the request to provide the cost of a special trip he made to Paris, funded largely by the nonprofit arm of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. 

Not long after the Paris dust-up, Filner's fiancée, Bronwyn Ingram, announced that she'd ended their engagement. A week later, a letter written by Filner's longtime ally, attorney Cory Briggs, surfaced, in which he asked the mayor to resign. All this is to say that Filner's resignation marks the end of a truly tumultuous six month tenure as city mayor. Where Filner will go from here is anybody's guess, but with friends and family turning their back at increasing speed, there might be more to Filner's story than his political reputation. No official statements have been released prior to what is largely assumed to be the formal resignation date this Friday.

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.