SAN DIEGO – Mayor Bob Filner agreed Friday to resign in return for the citys help defending him against claims he groped, kissed and made lewd comments to women, allegations that shook and embarrassed the city and turned the former 10-term congressman into a national punch line.
Filner was regretful and defiant during a City Council meeting as he explained the the toughest decision of my life. He apologized to his accusers but insisted he was innocent of sexual harassment and said he was the victim of a lynch mob.
The city should not have to go through this, and my own personal failures were responsible and I apologize to the city, Filner said after the council voted 7-0 on a deal that ended a political stalemate after 17 women publicly accused him of harassment.
To all the women that Ive offended, I had no intention to be offensive, to violate any physical or emotional space, he said. I was trying to establish personal relationships, but the combination of awkwardness and hubris led to behavior that I think many found offensive.
The city will pay Filners legal fees in a joint defense of a lawsuit filed by the mayors former communications director and pay for any settlement costs assessed against the mayor except for punitive damages, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said.
Filner, backed by a sometimes boisterous crowd of supporters, challenged the City Council to pursue his policy initiatives, as varied as addressing climate change and bringing the Olympic Games to the region.
I am responsible for providing the ammunition, he said. I did that and I take full responsibility, but there are well-organized interests who have run this city for 50 years who pointed the gun, and the media and their political agents pulled the trigger.
Filner choked up as he apologized to his former fiancée, Bronwyn Ingram, who ended the relationship just before the scandal erupted and called for him to resign.
I love you very much. You came to love San Diego as much as I did, and you did memorable things in the short time that you were first lady, he said.
The 70-year-old Filner, a liberal Democrat, served 20 years in Congress before becoming mayor of the nations eighth-largest city.
He had previously insisted he still could be an effective mayor and underwent two weeks of behavioral therapy before returning to work this week. But his support diminished as more women – one of them a great-grandmother and another a retired Navy admiral – came forward.
Some of Filners closest political allies and all nine members of the council called on him to quit. On Friday, just before the council vote, the Democratic National Committee took the extraordinary step of passing a resolution demanding Filner leave.
Gloria Allred, who represents Filners former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, in a lawsuit filed against Filner and the city, said the city should not use taxpayer money to pay Filners legal bills.
The mayors resignation should not be bought at the expense of his victims, she said Thursday.
McCormack, as she is known professionally, was the first woman to go public with allegations against Filner, and her lawsuit is the only one filed against the mayor and the city. Filner still faces a criminal investigation.