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Ex-supporters to explain why they want San Diego mayor to resign

July 11, 2013|By Tony Perry

Three former high-profile supporters of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner have scheduled a news conference Thursday to discuss their call for his resignation over sexual harassment claims.

The former supporters also say Filner lacks commitment to "open, accountable, responsible government."

The calls for Filner to resign after seven months in office came Wednesday from lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez and former Councilwoman Donna Frye.

So far, Filner has declined to respond, even as reporters confronted him at his condominium.

Francine Busby, chairwoman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, issued a statement late Wednesday saying, "We join other San Diegans in seeking more details and awaiting the mayor's response."

The calls for his resignation are the latest in a series of turbulent events involving the 70-year-old Democrat, who was elected in November after 10 terms in Congress and experience on the San Diego City Council and school board.

On Monday, Filner's fiancee sent an email to friends and supporters, announcing she and the mayor have broken their engagement and ended their relationship. The email from Bronwyn Ingram, whom Filner had referred to as San Diego's first lady, provided no details.

There also have been published and broadcast reports that federal officials are looking into a deal between Filner and a land developer.

The developer donated $100,000 to two of Filner's pet projects—one for military veterans, one for bicycle riders—allegedly in exchange for Filner dropping his opposition to a land-use project. Filner has since returned the money.

KGTV-Channel 10 has also raised questions about the use of public money for a trip that Filner took to Paris to participate in a rally organized by Iranian dissidents. San Diego police went on the trip to provide security for the mayor.

While there has been grumbling in some Republican circles that a recall movement should be mounted against the combative Filner, particulary due to his feud with the Republican city attorney, Jan Goldsmith, the resignation demands signal the first defection from his supporters.

The letter from Frye, first revealed by KPBS, mentions "credible evidence of more than one woman being sexually harassed by you. Despite past rumors, I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt.

"However those who have spoken to me recently would not make the allegations lightly or without cause and I believe them. I cannot in good conscience remain silent..."

No further details were revealed.

The letter from Gonzalez mentions Filner's alleged treatment of his staff, particularly the women. "Unfortunately, I and numerous of my colleagues have reached the point where we do not believe your behavior will change..."

Briggs' letter does not mention sexual harassment but says that, "I have been struggling to try to understand, and put in proper context, all that I have been hearing about what has taken place within your office."

Briggs and Gonzalez have been involved in numerous high-profile environmental and land-use cases, including several in which they represented a side favored by Filner.

Frye, a former mayoral candidate, was key to Filner's mayoral campaign with sharp criticisms of his opponent, then-Councilman Carl DeMaio. After Filner was elected, she worked briefly as his director of open government issues.

During the mayoral campaign, Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis, who was eliminated in the mayoral primary, criticized Filner for showing a disrespect for women.

Filner has had several resignations among his mayoral staff, including the deputy chief of staff and the communications director.

As news of the resignation demands swept City Hall, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, issued a statement calling for Filner to give the public "a full explanation."

"It saddens me that the city of San Diego is crumbling under Mayor Filner's scandals," the statement said.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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