The sexual harassment scandal against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner continued to grow Tuesday with a former deputy campaign manager alleging that Filner publicly patted her buttocks and made a crude comment about her at a congressional fundraising dinner in 2005.
And the latest allegations implicate the mayor’s new chief of staff — the person now charged with overseeing Filner’s behavior toward women — as well.
Laura Fink, the former deputy campaign manager, told KPBS that she complained about the incident a few days after it happened in an email to Filner, which she copied to Filner’s then-congressional chief of staff Tony Buckles. From KPBS:
Buckles soon called, Fink said, to ask what she wanted.
“An apology,” was her response.
Fink said she ultimately received a mumbled, half-hearted “I’m sorry” from Filner, who added that Fink had misunderstood his intentions. Fink, now a local political consultant, said she didn’t go public with the incident sooner because she was trying to build her career and feared Filner would retaliate against her. Like former mayoral staffer Irene McCormack, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner Monday, Fink wants the mayor to resign.
If Fink’s allegations are true, then Buckles has long been aware of Filner’s bad behavior toward women, something that’s extremely relevant now.
Filner re-hired Buckles after his former mayoral chief of staff, Vince Hall, resigned early on in the scandal. Buckles, a former Army colonel who led Filner’s congressional office for at least a decade, was billed as a sort-of “Bob Whisperer,” someone who could keep the cantankerous politician in line. Buckles was promptly put in charge of enforcing a new City Hall policy that keeps Filner from meeting with any woman alone on city property.
But Fink’s allegations raise serious questions about whether Buckles has enabled Filner’s treatment of women.
Buckles couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Update: This post has been changed to better reflect the nature of the allegations.