Filner won’t receive award from women’s veterans group after all
SAN DIEGO -- An association of women veterans has withdrawn plans to give an award to Mayor Bob Filner extolling him as a champion in the fight against sexual assault in the military.
But Filner is still slated to be the keynote speaker at the group’s Aug. 30-31 fundraising event in downtown San Diego, according to the website of the group, the National Women Veterans Assn. of America.
Two lawyers and a former city councilwoman have accused Filner of sexually harassing female staff members and constituents. The three say they have met with the women and believe their accounts of the mayor forcibly kissing them, making lewd comments, and grabbing their buttocks and breasts.
The women’s names have not been made public.
Lawyer Marco Gonzalez said one of the women will file a formal sexual harassment claim with the city.
Gonzalez, attorney Cory Briggs and former councilwoman Donna Frye, all longtime friends and supporters of Filner, have called on him to resign.
Filner, 70, a Democrat, only seven months into his term, has admitted treating women badly and promised to seek professional help, take a sexual harassment class and apologize to any women that he has offended. But he has denied sexually harassing women and has said he will not resign.
He has also named a new chief of staff and an interim chief operating officer to ensure that the controversy does not hamper city operations. The majority of the City Council has asked him to resign.
Tara Jones, president of the National Women Veterans Assn. of America, said in a statement on the group’s website: “Due to the recent events of allegations of sexual harassment, admission of inappropriate behavior by the mayor and his personal cry for help, [Filner] will not be getting an award.”
Still, he will be “the keynote speaker on these injustices,” Jones said. “We do not tolerate sexual discrimination at any level within our society.”
During his 10 terms in the Congress, Filner was a favorite of veterans groups for his efforts to demand better benefits and medical care for veterans, as well as open up more opportunities for women on active duty and drop the “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” rule.
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