Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bob Filner Probably Resigning, But Troubling Questions Linger

"Don't let the door hit you, Bob..."
I'm sure by now you've read the news that embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is probably resigning. Yes, the greasy pol is apparently out - though some of the details of his pending resignation "deal" are still uncertain. It had to happen. At least 18 very credible women have come forward with specific accounts of Filner's creepy behavior. That he is apparently leaving represents a potentially healing moment for this city, which has taken a major PR hit in recent weeks.

But as this conniving man with the comic-book-villain smile prepares to head off into the San Diego sunset, some disturbing questions and hypocrisies about this case linger in my mind. The most glaring one is that he should not be paid by the City to leave. He does not deserve a penny from taxpayers.

The other aspect of this case that really troubles me is the fact that so many of Filner's political opponents, who say they're outraged by Filner's alleged harassment of several female military veterans who themselves were victims of sexual assault, never voiced a word about the sexual assault crisis in the United States military until now. 

As someone who covers the military and veterans I admit my bias here. But where was the concern among these folks for our female troops who were assaulted long before the Filner case broke, especially here in San Diego, which has one of the highest concentrations of active duty military and veterans in the nation? 

A recent Pentagon report suggests that as many as 26,000 military service members may have been assaulted last year. That is an unbelievable statistic. Sexual military assault is an enormous problem. But in San Diego, we heard mostly crickets until Bob's brave accusers stepped up to the microphone.

It begs the question: Are Filner's political opponents who are waving the flag and voicing support for the female veterans who say they were harassed by Filner really that concerned with sexual assault and sexual harassment? Or did they just care about getting Filner out of office? 

Filner, who I covered for Newsweek when he was chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, has a reputation for arrogance and downright meanness dating back years. He was a political pit bull who did do a lot of good for veterans while in Congress. But at the same time that he was helping some, he was evidently harassing and traumatizing others. Even most of his closest political allies think he's a jerk. 

While in Congress, Filner reportedly met Air Force Master Sergeant Eldonna Fernandez at a National Women's Veterans Association of America (NWVAA) "Healing and Hiring Fair." Fernandez, who served her country honorably for 23 years and was deployed to the Middle East after 9/11, was raped three times during her service. 

She, along with Army veteran Gerri Tindley, are among the women who have publicly accused Filner making unwanted advances. They are also among at least eight female veterans and members of the NWVAA in San Diego who CNN reports have made accusations against the departing mayor. Almost all of the women were victims of sexual assault while they were in the military.

The women say Filner used his power to access military sexual assault survivors. If true, this is of course beneath contempt. 

The very real and ongoing problem of sexual military assault has finally gotten some press in recent months, but it hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as the Filner debacle, which has not only made national news but even the talk shows and comedy shows. 

Is it good that we are as a nation now talking about sexual military assault? Yes, of course. But is it transparently obvious why some of Filner's opponents are bringing it up now when they have completely neglected the issue in the past? Again, yes. 

What really matters here is that women, and men, are being sexually assaulted and harassed every day, both in and out of the military. That's something that I hope people do not conveniently forget once the Furious Filner News Cycle dies down.


  1. agree. no $ for criminal Bob's assaults. more help for our service members and veterans who were assaulted by him or by anyone else.

  2. That is an unbelievable statistic. Sexual military assault is an enormous problem