One of the seven women who has publicly accused San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of inappropriate behavior helped pay off his campaign debt, according to a financial disclosure released Tuesday.
Sharon Bernie-Cloward, head of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, accused Filner last week of making an unwanted sexual advance toward her in 2010 and “groping her backside” after a campaign event last year.
“I was left there startled and fearful. In fact, I actually had someone walk me to my car that night,” Bernie-Cloward told KPBS.
A campaign filing released Tuesday shows Bernie-Cloward gave Filner $200 on Jan. 31 to help pay off the mayor’s more than $100,000 debt from his successful mayoral campaign. Filner raised enough money by the end of June to pay off his entire debt, including $3,500 of his own money and $45,500 from the local Democratic Party, according to the filing.
Six executives from developer Sunroad gave Filner a total of $3,000 to help pay off the debt as well, according to U-T San Diego. Filner is embroiled in a federal investigation over his handling of a Sunroad development project.
Update: Bernie-Cloward called me back soon after this story published. She said she was reluctant to send Filner the money but she had to do it for her job representing business owners along port tidelands, like she does when donating to other elected officials across the region.
“It was a typical campaign check,” Bernie-Cloward said. “My job is my job, and you’ve got to work with these people.”
Bernie-Cloward reiterated that she reported the 2012 incident to the Port Tenants Association board when it happened. She also said she was reluctant to make her accusations public earlier than she did because the port tenants’ PAC backed Filner’s opponent, Carl DeMaio.
“I guarantee you,” she said. “If I came forward at that time, they would have said that I was just coming to get him.”