Ex-Legislator: I Warned Democratic Party About Filner Two Years Ago

Ex-Legislator: I Warned Democratic Party About Filner Two Years Ago

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Lori Saldaña, pictured at 2012 rally in support of women's rights.

The local Democratic Party has known for a long time about sexual harassment allegations against Bob Filner, a former Democratic assemblywoman said in a Thursday interview.

“I blew the whistle on this two years ago to the Democratic Party leadership,” former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña said.

Saldaña said that in summer 2011 six prominent women in local politics, business and education told her that Filner had physically or verbally harassed them. Saldaña had been exploring what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid for Congress and the conversations came in the context of the 2012 elections.

Saldaña said she contacted former party Chairman Jess Durfee with the allegations and Durfee was among a group of Democratic leaders who met with Filner to discuss them that summer. She said nothing happened.

“As disgraceful as Bob’s behavior has been, it’s been tolerated by our Democratic Party leadership,” she said.

Saldaña said Filner never personally harassed her and declined to say who alleged to have had run-ins with the mayor. She said former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who is calling for Filner’s resignation over unspecified sexual harassment allegations, inspired her to talk.

Saldaña has a long history of conflict with Filner, most prominently over a failed border sewage treatment project about a decade ago. She also wound up endorsing him for mayor.

Party leaders, she said, made it clear that if people didn’t support Filner they wouldn’t receive their support again.

Durfee, the former party chairman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Current party Chairwoman Francine Busby released a statement after the allegations broke Wednesday saying she and the party take sexual harassment claims very seriously and that they’re awaiting the mayor’s response.

Update: Former Democratic Party Chairman Jess Durfee confirmed to U-T San Diego that Saldaña complained to him about Filner’s conduct. “He assured me there was nothing to be concerned about,” Durfee told the U-T. Filner also assured Durfee that no one had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him and that he had many female staffers. Durfee also said that he asked the women who spoke with Saldaña to contact him, but none did.

Update II: Busby responded to tell me that party leaders looked at Filner’s 30-year record of advocating for progressive causes when evaluating him as a candidate for mayor. Discussions involving Filner’s poor treatment of women never rose above rumor, she said.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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84 comments
santonn
santonn subscriber

Hey, all you disingenuous Repubs and Tea Party types: David Vitter. John Ensign. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mark Sanford. Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich. Need I go on? Vitter has ADMITTED to frequenting prostitutes and he's STILL a United States Senator. Sanford? Just got elected to Congress again. Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner gets caught taking snaps of his underwear covered junk and he's forced to resign. Please spare me your faux outrage.

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Michael Babbitt
Michael Babbitt

The war on women whether in the womb or outside is clearly a Democrat cause.

motion view
motion view

Filner is an abortion aficionado so the Democrat Party forgives all of his sexual harassment

WMEdelmann
WMEdelmann

Liberals, NOW, the media & Dems are giving the Filther, the Wiener & the Scuzbomb all a 'pass' and proving that a double-standard exists in American politics and media - especially giving grace to Democrats found with their tongues, peckers & fingers where they do not belong.

tucker
tucker

What won't a Democrat tolerate?! They have no morals, are out only for themselves, the country be damned!!

Olin Hyde
Olin Hyde

The problem is far bigger than Filner the Philander getting protection from hypocritical progressive party bosses like Jess Durfee and Francine Busby. The problem is political parties and career politicians. The solution is to vote out incumbents. Regardless of party.

Olin Hyde
Olin Hyde subscribermember

The problem is far bigger than Filner the Philander getting protection from hypocritical progressive party bosses like Jess Durfee and Francine Busby. The problem is political parties and career politicians. The solution is to vote out incumbents. Regardless of party.

Jerry Hall
Jerry Hall

Sad. Dozens of comments comments and not a peep about the reason these allegations have lingered for years. If women, especially politically career-minded ones, felt safe going public about harassment we wouldn't be having this conversation. I don't blame the current round of accusers one bit. They know it will be a circus and they'll be center-ring. Three years from now major media will discuss their new campaign and will quip 'one of the alleged Filner victims'. This problem is much bigger than one man. It's a statement about the public's vicious appetite for drama, the stigma women know full well they'll be saddled with. Oddly, we men will get off the hook because many one us will blame the victim or even those that helped by sticking up for the silent ones. This is absolutely a non-partisan problem. It's a reflection of the much bigger gender-bias and stigmatized-victim syndromes the majority of us will practice silently or more unabashedly. Wit seems abusers can easily hide behind 'there's no formal charges' statement (technically rightly so) because of the smokescreen we provide in shaming potential victims. We all play a role. Shame on us.

Steve B
Steve B

They'd gladly get behind David Duke too if he came out for socialized medicine, abortion at 39 weeks and massive tax increases.

Bibrax Redux
Bibrax Redux

This is obviously "much ado about nothing"...The complainant IS a DemFem Pol. To her jaded, upper-echelon Dem Power Brokers, this is merely "intra-party consensual f0replay". After all, precedent WAS set by "it depends on what IS is"...

mcc99
mcc99

I just don't get why the Dems permit guys like this to go on doing this stuff when one of their key ideological pillars embodies categorically opposite behavior. Look at Bill Clinton-- they gave him a complete pass. Same w/ Kennedy, but to be fair, he was 50 yrs. ago, and attitudes still hadn't quite caught up). This is why I simply don't buy the belief that there are substantial diffs betw. our two major parties. It's really just abt money and power. The rest is all looking for ways to appeal for votes regardless of the truth of anything. Really, I'd like to see evidence of just *one* of the two major parties actually behaving w/ some semblance of integrity, but they both show zero interest in doing so.

Bibrax Redux
Bibrax Redux

How is this Dem debauchery a surprise to ANYBODY? After all, such chronic lewd behavior IS a prerequisite for Dem political office…I mean REALLY! Look at the present, BIZARRE “John, Madame and Ho Minstrel Show” playing out on the NY political stage! Is there NOTHING that the D-Klub will find disgusting or unacceptable amongst its ranks? NOTHING? And yet, when a deviant D-Klub member evidences such behavior--usually only after it has been too egregious to hide--the Greater D-Klub members circle the State Limos, and go into full-on “damage control”! Alas, these chattering D-Snitches will either be mollified with plush appointments to D-committees--if they retract their accusations; or they will be side-lined, politically cannibalized and destroyed by their own DNC. Hmmm…that quaint little adage from the U.S. Prison System is well-applied in the Dem Power Panoply: SNITCHES GET STITCHES! If one strays from the Progressive Political Plantation and embarrasses or weakens the Brand, there WILL be personal and political hell to pay… Now, just watch as the complicit Propagandist Media gets the “memo” from on high, and commences to spin and sanitize this sociopathic Dem’s “optics”…YAY TEAM “D”!!!

Chuck Upster
Chuck Upster

So he sexually harassed her, she secretly reported him and she still supported his campaign? You can't make this stuff up.

Glenn Younger
Glenn Younger

Heavy handed party leadership "get behind our candidate or lose our support in the future" leads candidates to a Faustian choice. Lori get's my respect for saying something. Better late than never. This is the real story. Who covered up and for how long?

Glenn Younger
Glenn Younger subscribermember

Heavy handed party leadership "get behind our candidate or lose our support in the future" leads candidates to a Faustian choice. Lori get's my respect for saying something. Better late than never. This is the real story. Who covered up and for how long?

Dan Cummings
Dan Cummings

Code: 30 years of higher taxes and putting cronies in power. They didn't care about his abuse of women, that's all just talking points.

Heywood Ja' Blowme
Heywood Ja' Blowme

(quote) Update: Former Democratic Party Chairman Jess Durfee confirmed to U-T San Diego that Saldaña complained to him about Filner’s conduct. “He assured me there was nothing to be concerned about,” (quote) Nothing to see here.... Keep moving.... Go on about your business.... Business as usual....

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen

Hey, all you disingenuous Repubs and Tea Party types: David Vitter. John Ensign. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mark Sanford. Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich. Need I go on? Vitter has ADMITTED to frequenting prostitutes and he's STILL a United States Senator. Sanford? Just got elected to Congress again. Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner gets caught taking snaps of his underwear covered junk and he's forced to resign. Please spare me your faux outrage.

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen subscriber

Hey, all you disingenuous Repubs and Tea Party types: David Vitter. John Ensign. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mark Sanford. Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich. Need I go on? Vitter has ADMITTED to frequenting prostitutes and he's STILL a United States Senator. Sanford? Just got elected to Congress again. Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner gets caught taking snaps of his underwear covered junk and he's forced to resign. Please spare me your faux outrage.

Tom Dean
Tom Dean

In answer to your question, there is very little if anything that today's liberal politician or activist won't support in private though they will be mostly PC in public. It is easier to understand today's liberal/progressive from the perspective that they are effectively adherents to a strict secular religion wherein "Big Government" is the deity that knows all, is the source/provider of all that is "good", and must be obeyed. Liberals/Democrats 'worship' "Big Government" as Islamists 'worship' Allah. Obama is to Liberals as Mohammed is to Islamists.... In a pragmatic sense, "Big Government" is power, they worship the power to control others, to inflict their religion on others. As such, consider that right now, it is not just Democrats anymore, since the 2012 election, the GOP leadership has chosen to worship fully at the feet of big government so they can 'win like Obama'. That's why the GOP is pushing "immigration reform". Most people don't seem to realize that the "pathway to citizenship" is really a calculated political process to manufacture 18M to 30M government-dependent, easily controlled votes within 2 to 3 election cycles - and "bipartisan" means the GOP have made a deal with Schumer-Obama to share power and enjoy the spoils of absolute power. If you do the electoral math, it's clear that whomever controls those votes is guaranteed control over America. That's why our power-mad politicians are working so hard elevating the interests of tens of millions of citizens of foreign nations above the legitimate interests of American citizens... It's all about power.

Lily
Lily

GO FUCK YOURSELF!! LETS SEE HOW YOU FEEL IF YOU LOSE A JOB, AND THUS LOSE ALL YOUR MEDICAL COVERAGE, AND SUDDENLY COME DOWN WITH A DEBILATATING DISEASE! IN FACT, I THOROUGHLY HOPE YOU DO, CONSERVATIVE TRASH!!! AND NO, I DON'T SUPPORT ABORTION AT BASICALLY TIME OF BIRTH, BUT I DO SUPPORT THIS MOST ***PRIVATE*** OF DECISIONS BE KEPT WITHIN THE SPHERE IT BELONGS---- THE MOTHER AND FATHER OF THE FETUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KILL YOURSELF, RIGHT-WING SELFISH IGNORANT PUNK. YOUR WILLFUL IGNORANCE IS ALL-TOO-TYPICAL AMONGST YOUR LOWER-LIFE-FORM KIND. HARD FOR THE REST OF US WHO MUST PLEAD TO SANITY AND A SMOOTHLY-FUNCTIONING BRAIN AND BRAIN STEM TO COMPREHEND.

Bibrax Redux
Bibrax Redux

Well golly gee, let me guess...A venial and complicit state-run propagandist media? No! That can't possibly be why...How about Anthropogenic Global Warming? I'm sure there's a research grant out there just waiting to fund a corrupt and complicit "scientist" willing to make THAT association. Hmmm...GW? No, that line is too stale! How about PTPSD (Post Traumatic Political Stress Disorder)? I betcha those crafty Dem Handlers are already constructing a "narrative", where upon a "psychiatric malady" will be blamed for the hapless Dem's chronic, lascivious behaviors. Said Dem-Pol will then be quickly farmed out--on the taxpayer dime--to a luxurious "rehab resort" where his Nympho-maniacal Sexual Disorder will be "cured"... Mark my words: he'll be back in the political saddle in 30-days flat!

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen

Let's see: Anthony Weiner forced to resign immediately--by his own party. Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign immediately--by his own party. Gary Hart was forced to drop out of the presidential race--by his own party. Seems to me that the Dems typically hold their own to higher standards, but if you're a Republican, it's okay. As I noted, David Vitter is still a United States Senator, having been re-elected to his seat AFTER the prostitution scandal broke. John Ensign was allowed to stick around until it became clear that the Senate, for the first time in over a century, was about to expel him as a member. Mark Sanford was welcomed back with open arms after having an affair with his Argentinian girlfriend on the taxpayers' dime. So you tell me who's got the double standard?

Bibrax Redux
Bibrax Redux

But Darling, DO remember that "Repubs" are held to a far higher standard of behavior! They are immediately (and rightly so) berated and politically marginalized by other Repubs AND the general GOP electorate. Add to that TOTAL evisceration and unrelenting "ground and pound" treatment by the State-run Propagandist Press--and there is complete political retribution for their sins. Only recently have we seen a change in the treatment of wayward Repubs by their exacting electorate...Fair-minded Folks have realized that the political playing field is both mountainous and canyoned for Repubs; while Dems get a flat, manicured blue grass field, replete with full-bar and hookers...Ergo, your risible "argument" is baseless.

Dana Blasi
Dana Blasi

I'm with you .If the emperor Filner asked the gals to shake hands with "little Bob" in the broom closet they should just shut up , lean across the plate and take one for the party !

NealWV
NealWV

All of the Repub are subsequently ousted from politics and from the party most of all. Not that they are doing it on moral grounds. They do it because the libs own the media and its political advantagous to do so. The problem with the dem is that they don't oust the perps. Dems celebrated all those caught. Such as the Repre. that was having sex with the underage pages working at the house of rep. Or the the dem leader in the ethics committee keeping his job after those who bribed him with $90k was found in his freezer, went to jail. So we aren't saying that the Rep. are completely innocent of misdeeds. We are only saying that the Dems like Clinton suffer no reprocussions for lying under oath. I don't care if he has sex with whoever but lying under oath sent Scooter Libby to jail. Libby's only crime was trying to answer questions and contridicted a previous statement about an unrelated topic.

The Classical Liberal
The Classical Liberal

There is a difference between going to a prostitute and sending pictures of your junk to unknown women. I personally don't care about Spitzer going to a prostitute, or Clinton having an affair. I don't think that affects their ability to do what they were hired to. Weiner's issue is different. Now, one more thing: stop conflating Tea Party with Republican and Conservative. Schwarzenegger came before the Tea Party but his policies and positions are anything but small, limited government. Social Conservatives may be appalled by a politician having an affair but Social Conservative is not equal to Tea Party. Yes. There are social conservatives in the Tea Party but the uniting factor of the Tea Party is small, constitutionally limited government. I am an atheist, pro-choice, pro-gay civil ceremony and a proud supporter of the Tea Party.

curmudgeoninchief
curmudgeoninchief

I think Bob should tough it out, force people in the SD Demo Party to deal with him as long as possible, and then run for re-election. Make the Donkeys clean up their own act by proving that sexual harassment is so important an issue that the voters won't vote for an alleged harasser. It never worked with Slick Willie, why should it work here?

Glenn Younger
Glenn Younger

This is not about sex. I don't care where or who or when any politician is having sex. In fact I want them to be satisfied as long as it is consensual. What I, and most people I believe, don't condone is abuse or harassment. That is what the outrage is about.

mike r
mike r

the one I saw sure wasn't underwear covered!

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen subscriber

Let's see: Anthony Weiner forced to resign immediately--by his own party. Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign immediately--by his own party. Gary Hart was forced to drop out of the presidential race--by his own party. Seems to me that the Dems typically hold their own to higher standards, but if you're a Republican, it's okay. As I noted, David Vitter is still a United States Senator, having been re-elected to his seat AFTER the prostitution scandal broke. John Ensign was allowed to stick around until it became clear that the Senate, for the first time in over a century, was about to expel him as a member. Mark Sanford was welcomed back with open arms after having an affair with his Argentinian girlfriend on the taxpayers' dime. So you tell me who's got the double standard?

Glenn Younger
Glenn Younger subscribermember

This is not about sex. I don't care where or who or when any politician is having sex. In fact I want them to be satisfied as long as it is consensual. What I, and most people I believe, don't condone is abuse or harassment. That is what the outrage is about.

Charles Zad
Charles Zad

All those you indicate "resigned" were forced to resign NOT by Democrats but by public outrage and the fear Democrats had of losing elections as a result.

Lily
Lily

Thank you!!! Exactly what I was thinking, and very well put!!! Dems don't hold their members accountable?? my G**********D****MN AS$$$!...I would say they certainly do!!... from the looks of things (and perhaps this isn't always so, but it certainly seems to be), it's the CONS behaving badly, both recently and not-so-recently, and getting very much away with it!

Lily
Lily

You drank the TEA BAG -massive- brain-cell apoptosis-causing KOOL AID also, huh?? Shame. I bet you used to a be a real swell-a$$ guy. And who's your latest spokesperson?? Wait... I got this....That space bat Michele Bachman!..right??!?