A woman who once worked for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner says he patted her buttocks in public in 2005, and days later, after she demanded an apology, mumbled “I’m sorry.”
Laura Fink, who runs a political consulting firm, told the public radio/television station KPBS that she was working as deputy campaign manager for Filner’s reelection bid for Congress when the incident occurred at a fundraiser in San Diego.
When someone at the fundraiser joked that Fink had “worked her ... off for you,” Filner patted her buttocks and said, “No, it’s still there,” Fink told KPBS.
Fink said she did not go public with her complaint about Filner’s conduct because, at the time, she was trying to start a consulting business and “Bob Filner has a reputation for swift retribution and for holding grudges.”
Fink continued to work for Filner’s campaign.
Fink’s assertion came just a day after a former top aide to the 70-year-old Democrat, elected as mayor in November after 20 years in Congress, filed a lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment.
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Gloria Allred on behalf of Filner’s former mayoral communication director Irene McCormack Jackson, alleges that he routinely grabbed Jackson, dragged her around in a headlock, asked that they have sex and, once, asked her to work without wearing panties.
In response, Filner said Monday night that the lawsuit’s assertions are not valid and that he remains confident he will be exonerated when the case goes through the judicial system. He has rejected calls to resign.
In the lawsuit, Jackson alleges that the breaking point with Filner came when she and his deputy chief of staff upbraided him for his treatment of women but were not taken seriously.
Jackson quotes Allen Jones, the deputy chief of staff and a longtime Filner insider, telling him that, “You are running a terrible office. You are treating women in a horrible manner. What you are doing may even be illegal.”
Jackson said she told Filner, “I agree with Allen. You are horrible,” and that she mentioned the panties comment to him.
Jones has since resigned. Jackson has transferred to another job at City Hall.