Ex-San Diego Mayor Bob Filner still denies sex harassment and alleges his office was bugged

Ex-San Diego Mayor Bob Filner still denies sex harassment and alleges his office was bugged
The $667,000 that San Diego agreed to pay to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filnerwas the largest the city has paid in litigation involving Filner. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, in an interview this week, denied having sexually harassed women and claimed that his City Hall office had been bugged.

Filner stepped down in 2013 after less than a year in office and pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor battery and one count of felony false imprisonment. He spent three months under house arrest and is now serving probation in Los Angeles.


Asked by the Voice of San Diego whether he was sorry, Filner blamed women for making up fantasies.

"When you look at what … I was charged with, you know, it was, really, nothing illegal and it was just an attempt of the establishment to take back their city, which they did," Filner said.

He went on to blame the media and City Atty. Jan Goldsmith for conflating the accusations in court, and said he would have fought the charges had it not been so costly.

"I said there was no sexual harassment and most of the things were made up, are fantasies. And again, I have proof of all this," he said.

Neither Filner nor his attorney could be reached to elaborate on his comments.

Political consultant Laura Fink, one of the first to accuse Filner of unwanted touching, kissing or comments, said in a statement that the former mayor's "lack of remorse and accountability is predictable and pathetic — as is his desire to remain in the spotlight."

"Bob Filner is dragging the good name and integrity of more than 20 women through the mud to try to salvage his disgraced reputation," Fink said. "San Diegans paid a heavy price for his behavior. The least he could do for the victims and our city is to go away."

The fallout has included several lawsuits by women against the city, some of which have been settled.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of the victims, released a statement Tuesday night: "Mayor Filner was a disgrace to his office. He wants to blame others for his downfall, but all he needs to do to find the culprit is to look in the mirror. I hope that I will never see the likes of him or anyone like him in public office again."

Filner initiated the interview with Voice of San Diego by offering his perspective on homeless veterans, a topic he has been passionate about during his political career. A former chairman of the congressional Veterans Affairs Committee, Filner criticized San Diego's handling of homeless veterans and said his absence from the mayor's office had left a gaping hole in the opportunity to serve that population and other areas.

"I was considered the most progressive mayor in America, and it disappeared after a year," Filner said.

He also brushed off questions about his mental health that were brought up during the legal turmoil, saying, "There are no such problems."


Later in the interview, he said he had "found a bug" in his office that he claimed was planted there by the city attorney. "We asked the police to look at it and they didn't want to or didn't do it," he said.

Former Police Chief Bill Lansdowne disputed that claim Tuesday, saying Filner's chief of staff approached him with the concern that there might be a recording device in the mayor's office.

Lansdowne worked with the department's intelligence unit, hired an outside company to sweep Filner's office for bugs and came up empty-handed, the former police chief said.

"We had that office checked and we came back negative. They did not find anything," Lansdowne said.

The city attorney's office declined to comment on Filner's claim or any other points brought up in the interview. The city is representing him in his sexual harassment lawsuits.

Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Times staff writer David Garrick contributed to this report.