Marine’s Allegation a Direct Hit to Filner’s Legacy

Marine’s Allegation a Direct Hit to Filner’s Legacy

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Mayor Bob Filner listens to a resident during Saturday hours at City Hall held earlier this year.

It’s bad when a tearful disabled Iraq war veteran claims that you used her injuries to make an unwanted sexual advance toward the veteran’s nurse. It’s worse when the allegation happens in a military town like San Diego. It’s worst when the accusation strikes at the heart of the best thing you’re known for during decades in elected office.

Marine veteran Katherine Ragazzino choked up during a Tuesday press conference as she recalled a June meeting with Mayor Bob Filner in his office. Ragazzino and her nurse, Michelle Tyler, alleged that Filner isolated Tyler after the meeting and repeatedly asked her on a date, implying a quid-pro-quo to help Ragazzino.

“I don’t appreciate being used as a bargaining chip to fulfill his sexual desires,” Ragazzino said of the mayor.

Those comments, far more than the ridiculous Filner’s-a-danger-to-all-women sign celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred held up during the press conference, tarnish Filner’s entire political legacy in a way no other allegation of sexual harassment has to this point.

Filner built a 20-year career in Congress on the back of his work for veterans and individual constituents. For four years, he served as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He earned a national reputation for working to boost the VA budget and shepherding a new GI bill. Through his entire career, Filner prided himself on helping individuals break through the federal bureaucracy to get what they needed, even earning the respect of political enemies.

Now, Filner’s accused of using his elected office to take advantage of an individual Marine with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, all for the sake of trying to get a date.

Another member of the growing group of women to publicly accuse Filner of misbehavior also has strong military ties. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Ronne Froman has claimed Filner ran his finger up and down her cheek and asked if she was single following a meeting in his congressional office a couple of years ago.

Allred, Tyler’s lawyer, said she didn’t plan to file a lawsuit against Filner over the incident. Instead she planned to have Tyler and Ragazzino speak with San Diego Sheriff’s Department investigators and encouraged the city to look into what happened.

But it’s hard to imagine anything an investigation could uncover that would hurt Filner’s legacy more than the teary testimony of a wounded Marine.

Update, Aug. 7: Two victims of sexual assault in the military have come forward to CNN to allege Filner made inappropriate advances toward them at an event for female victims of military sexual assault in August. “It appears to me that he was targeting the organization and hitting on the women of this organization because they were easy prey,” one of the veterans Eldonna Fernandez said. Here’s the CNN report:

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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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43 comments
Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant subscriber

They went to the mayor first when he was a U.S. Congressman, and he told them to come back to him again if they continued to be unsuccessful in their efforts. How did the nurse involve the patient in a personal issue? The nurse was the one Filner came on to and her friend was the one Filner used for leverage. They are both involved. The part that seems "questionable" and "weird" to me is that you're more taken aback by two constituents coming to Filner for help, than about a mayor asking others to leave the room (the mayor's office) and strongly coming on to one of his constituents to the point that she got the impression it was quid pro quo. Take away the names and the party affiliations and the current situation and which do you think a rational person would find more disturbing? Constituents seeking a mayor for help, or a mayor hitting on his constituents in his office to the point that they feel like if they want the help they would have to get romantically involved with the mayor? Which one of those two things seems out of place?

Jely03
Jely03

seems like the press conference is chumming for others to come forward...

Jely03
Jely03

Why didn't this soldier avail herself to the proper channels including DAV advocacy? Seems out of order to go to the city mayer over a federal issue where there are other clear VA channels including DAV advocacy to help her? Why did the nurse involve her patient in the nurse's personal issue? This all seems very questionable? Weird?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

I was all for leaving Filner in place, After all the women who had came forward had chosen to make their living in the cesspool of politics, knew Filner's reputation or should have, and the harassment seemed to be more clumsy, grabby passes than true harassment. Leaving him in place seemed good entertainment and damaging to his left wing agenda. Then there was the Marilyn Monroe impersonator, Emily I think, she didn't fit in with the rest of the women, and Filner wasn't a drunk at a bachelor party, she made me change my mind, Filner must go. But this latest group? Using injured veterans as sexual bargaining chips? Not only should Filner go, but he should go with the full weight of prosecution against him, with every effort to put him in jail and strip him of everything. He went way too far. Also his bodyguards, who seemed to enable this despite being law enforcement need to be fully prosecuted as well. It's time to flush this toilet.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

I was all for leaving Filner in place, After all the women who had came forward had chosen to make their living in the cesspool of politics, knew Filner's reputation or should have, and the harassment seemed to be more clumsy, grabby passes than true harassment. Leaving him in place seemed good entertainment and damaging to his left wing agenda. Then there was the Marilyn Monroe impersonator, Emily I think, she didn't fit in with the rest of the women, and Filner wasn't a drunk at a bachelor party, she made me change my mind, Filner must go. But this latest group? Using injured veterans as sexual bargaining chips? Not only should Filner go, but he should go with the full weight of prosecution against him, with every effort to put him in jail and strip him of everything. He went way too far. Also his bodyguards, who seemed to enable this despite being law enforcement need to be fully prosecuted as well. It's time to flush this toilet.

Don Blucher
Don Blucher

The drip, drip, drip, of the Filner Water Torture is being heard loud and clear all across the U.S.....When progressives have THAT much ego and are unwilling to do the right thing for the constituents, it gets kinda embarrassing to watch after awhile. Sooner or later the mayor will succumb to the drip, drip, drip, drip, drip...............................

Don Blucher
Don Blucher subscriber

The drip, drip, drip, of the Filner Water Torture is being heard loud and clear all across the U.S.....When progressives have THAT much ego and are unwilling to do the right thing for the constituents, it gets kinda embarrassing to watch after awhile. Sooner or later the mayor will succumb to the drip, drip, drip, drip, drip...............................

Stephen Goldfarb
Stephen Goldfarb subscribermember

Same old stuff: Trial by press conference.

don lindsay
don lindsay

filner is representative of all the slimy, slithery, liberal, leftist democrats, particularly in CA & the White House. Their entire MO is this kind of skankiness.

don lindsay
don lindsay subscriber

filner is representative of all the slimy, slithery, liberal, leftist democrats, particularly in CA & the White House. Their entire MO is this kind of skankiness.

Michael Russell
Michael Russell

This story isn't true. The woman choked up because she was lying on TV and nerves made her scared. There are no charges being filed, no lawsuit, this is bogus. It's obviously a political character assassination. Amazing how we focus on sex over the corruption of the downtown business development banks.

Michael Russell
Michael Russell subscriber

This story isn't true. The woman choked up because she was lying on TV and nerves made her scared. There are no charges being filed, no lawsuit, this is bogus. It's obviously a political character assassination. Amazing how we focus on sex over the corruption of the downtown business development banks.

Tar Marble
Tar Marble

when did he have time to do anything he was elected to do?

Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant

"A man who lacks character makes a mockery of his ideas" I'm starting to feel like the ones that are still ardent Filner apologists are also making a mockery of their ideas. Some of you are like Stephen Colbert doppelgangers, you're allegiance is so staunch that it could be confused for satire. Filner himself hasn't been half as defensive as some of you, his comments are primarily critical of his self. He's saying I need to change, and I've done wrong, and the remaining apologists are saying this is all overblown. Start preparing a campaign for your next candidate and move on. Filner is done. He's a disgrace.

Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant subscriber

"A man who lacks character makes a mockery of his ideas" I'm starting to feel like the ones that are still ardent Filner apologists are also making a mockery of their ideas. Some of you are like Stephen Colbert doppelgangers, you're allegiance is so staunch that it could be confused for satire. Filner himself hasn't been half as defensive as some of you, his comments are primarily critical of his self. He's saying I need to change, and I've done wrong, and the remaining apologists are saying this is all overblown. Start preparing a campaign for your next candidate and move on. Filner is done. He's a disgrace.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

The only help could involve a phone call or letter to the Veterans Administration and the Federal Government on behalf of the women. Mayor Filner agreed to help when both women were in the meeting with staff. Not at the time clueless Filner asked the friend for her phone number. As a City Official, Mayor Filner can advocate to Federal officials. The Federal government still makes the call for the lady's specific issue, or any Veterans issue. Not a local city Mayor.

William Hamilton
William Hamilton

If this Mayor doesn't resign soon, his only legacy is going to be a destroyed progressive agenda and a bitterly divided populace for whom the wounds will take decades to heal...

William Hamilton
William Hamilton subscriber

If this Mayor doesn't resign soon, his only legacy is going to be a destroyed progressive agenda and a bitterly divided populace for whom the wounds will take decades to heal...

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

https://www.facebook.com/SanDiegansForMayorBobFilner The following quote is an analysis by the San Diegans for Mayor Bob Filner Facebook Page. "Lets take a look at the statements Allred made, since we know the media will not. 1.. After agreeing to help Ragazzino, Filner asked to speak to Tyler alone. AFTER agreeing to help, not before, not during, no quid pro quo but "after saying he would help." 2. She said Filner told Tyler that if they weren't in his office, he would like to kiss her. IF they weren't in his office. Making it clear he wasn't using his office. 3.Tyler told him to stop and said she had to leave, Allred said. As Tyler left the office, the mayor told her, "I'm going to call you." DID the mayor ever call ?? 4. Ragazzino teared up as she described her experience with Filner and Tyler. She said she owes everything to Tyler for getting her help. NO, it appears you owe some of your thanks to the mayor, who helped you without any trade of favors at all. Once again the mayor flirts, ask a woman out, is rebuffed and he does no follow up on it. Once rebuffed it seems "no" works quite well with the mayor."San Diegans for Mayor Bob Filnerhttps://www.facebook.com/SanDiegansForMayorBobFilnerSan Diegans for Mayor Bob Filner. 315 likes · 186 talking about this. San Diego finally has a progressive, energetic, and community minded mayor! He needs to know that we San Diegans have his back too!

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

https://www.facebook.com/SanDiegansForMayorBobFilner The following quote is an analysis by the San Diegans for Mayor Bob Filner Facebook Page. "Lets take a look at the statements Allred made, since we know the media will not. 1.. After agreeing to help Ragazzino, Filner asked to speak to Tyler alone. AFTER agreeing to help, not before, not during, no quid pro quo but "after saying he would help." 2. She said Filner told Tyler that if they weren't in his office, he would like to kiss her. IF they weren't in his office. Making it clear he wasn't using his office. 3.Tyler told him to stop and said she had to leave, Allred said. As Tyler left the office, the mayor told her, "I'm going to call you." DID the mayor ever call ?? 4. Ragazzino teared up as she described her experience with Filner and Tyler. She said she owes everything to Tyler for getting her help. NO, it appears you owe some of your thanks to the mayor, who helped you without any trade of favors at all. Once again the mayor flirts, ask a woman out, is rebuffed and he does no follow up on it. Once rebuffed it seems "no" works quite well with the mayor."San Diegans for Mayor Bob Filnerhttps://www.facebook.com/SanDiegansForMayorBobFilnerSan Diegans for Mayor Bob Filner. 315 likes · 186 talking about this. San Diego finally has a progressive, energetic, and community minded mayor! He needs to know that we San Diegans have his back too!

Joshua Brant
Joshua Brant

They went to the mayor first when he was a U.S. Congressman, and he told them to come back to him again if they continued to be unsuccessful in their efforts. How did the nurse involve the patient in a personal issue? The nurse was the one Filner came on to and her friend was the one Filner used for leverage. They are both involved. The part that seems "questionable" and "weird" to me is that you're more taken aback by two constituents coming to Filner for help, than about a mayor asking others to leave the room (the mayor's office) and strongly coming on to one of his constituents to the point that she got the impression it was quid pro quo. Take away the names and the party affiliations and the current situation and which do you think a rational person would find more disturbing? Constituents seeking a mayor for help, or a mayor hitting on his constituents in his office to the point that they feel like if they want the help they would have to get romantically involved with the mayor? Which one of those two things seems out of place?

Stephen Goldfarb
Stephen Goldfarb

Hey Don: You assume a lot. But you characterize the situation correctly ("a ... witch hunt"). In the latest rendition, the parties are not filing a law suit. They just want to make a public statement. The evidence for quid pro quo was spotty at best. The place to decipher the facts is in court. In court the accused has a voice.

Don Blucher
Don Blucher

Hey Stephen-- Would be nice to see you raise the same concerns when there is a media witch hunt involving a conservative voice, white celebrity chef, or "white Hispanic" in the news. When it's a progressive voice, all of a sudden you come out of the woodwork in condemnation of the coverage. Careful, or HYPOCRISY might rear its ugly head!!!! Please see Joshua Brant's comments, below........

Stephen Goldfarb
Stephen Goldfarb subscribermember

Hey Don: You assume a lot. But you characterize the situation correctly ("a ... witch hunt"). In the latest rendition, the parties are not filing a law suit. They just want to make a public statement. The evidence for quid pro quo was spotty at best. The place to decipher the facts is in court. In court the accused has a voice.

Don Blucher
Don Blucher subscriber

Hey Stephen-- Would be nice to see you raise the same concerns when there is a media witch hunt involving a conservative voice, white celebrity chef, or "white Hispanic" in the news. When it's a progressive voice, all of a sudden you come out of the woodwork in condemnation of the coverage. Careful, or HYPOCRISY might rear its ugly head!!!! Please see Joshua Brant's comments, below........

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw

Well! Look out folks, the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" is back. AND, it's now abetted by the "Right Wing Media" and those turncoat liberals calling for Hizzoner to leave. This endless circus reminds me of the Jack in the Box commercial a few years ago where Jack is introducing a new Mexican flavored product. He repeatedly stumbles over the word "chipotle", and the native woman making tortillas and trying to help him with his pronunciation gets increasingly frustrated. She finally says "Just go". That's where I am with this mayor, and I'll bet the majority of San Diegans agree with me.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin

"Once again the mayor flirts, ask a woman out, is rebuffed and he does no follow up on it. Once rebuffed it seems "no" works quite well with the mayor." Bingo. Gloria Allred is a show boat that is very skilled in using the media. Her "show" is about the money.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

Ms. Gehl. Agreed. The following is a link to Conversations with Nicole BY NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ. http://lgbtweekly.com/2013/07/23/hopefully-god-is-not-through-with-me-yet/ "But, I cannot remain silent when it comes to so many now involved in this growing controversy. Bronwyn Ingram did so much for so many in our city, and she should be commended for her compassion and caring for those less fortunate. But I’m very saddened by her recent statement about Bob. They had an open relationship. She knew about his flirtatious ways and conduct for four years and accepted them. Before Bronwyn broke off her engagement with Bob she told me she knew about some forthcoming allegations from other women." Hopefully, God is not through with me yethttp://lgbtweekly.com/2013/07/23/hopefully-god-is-not-through-with-me-yet/COMMENTARY: Conversations with Nicole BY NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ First, I most sincerely urge all of you to get tested for cancer, diabetes etc.

Sharon Gehl
Sharon Gehl

The Mayor was engaged to Brownyn Ingram while he was hitting on other women. Brownyn also deserves an apology .

Tar Marble
Tar Marble

you are sick. sicker than Filner. All these victims were not enough? Do you respect women at all????

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

What are you talking about? Over reach. Mayor Filner wrote the GI Bill for Post 911 Veterans that allows for a 4-year college education. Mayor Filner with President Obama moved the issue of Ending Veterans Homeless from 2020 with children/families/everyone to 2015 with the Chronic Homeless. The ladies deserve an apology.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga

Do you believe it's OK for the mayor to hit on constituents, and make them think there's a quid pro quo for his assistance, in the mayor's office?

Amazed
Amazed

And just exactly what "help"are you referring to? According to the veteran herself, NOTHING has changed concerning her issue with the V.A.

Amazed
Amazed

Just exactly what help would that be? NOTHING has changed concerning the situation with the V.A. according to the veteran herself.

Amazed
Amazed

Just exactly what help would that be? NOTHING has changed concerning the situation with the V.A. according to the veteran herself.

Bill Bradshaw
Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

Well! Look out folks, the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" is back. AND, it's now abetted by the "Right Wing Media" and those turncoat liberals calling for Hizzoner to leave. This endless circus reminds me of the Jack in the Box commercial a few years ago where Jack is introducing a new Mexican flavored product. He repeatedly stumbles over the word "chipotle", and the native woman making tortillas and trying to help him with his pronunciation gets increasingly frustrated. She finally says "Just go". That's where I am with this mayor, and I'll bet the majority of San Diegans agree with me.

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

"Once again the mayor flirts, ask a woman out, is rebuffed and he does no follow up on it. Once rebuffed it seems "no" works quite well with the mayor." Bingo. Gloria Allred is a show boat that is very skilled in using the media. Her "show" is about the money.

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

Ms. Gehl. Agreed. The following is a link to Conversations with Nicole BY NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ. http://lgbtweekly.com/2013/07/23/hopefully-god-is-not-through-with-me-yet/ "But, I cannot remain silent when it comes to so many now involved in this growing controversy. Bronwyn Ingram did so much for so many in our city, and she should be commended for her compassion and caring for those less fortunate. But I’m very saddened by her recent statement about Bob. They had an open relationship. She knew about his flirtatious ways and conduct for four years and accepted them. Before Bronwyn broke off her engagement with Bob she told me she knew about some forthcoming allegations from other women." Hopefully, God is not through with me yethttp://lgbtweekly.com/2013/07/23/hopefully-god-is-not-through-with-me-yet/COMMENTARY: Conversations with Nicole BY NICOLE MURRAY RAMIREZ First, I most sincerely urge all of you to get tested for cancer, diabetes etc.

Sharon Gehl
Sharon Gehl subscribermember

The Mayor was engaged to Brownyn Ingram while he was hitting on other women. Brownyn also deserves an apology .

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage subscribermember

What are you talking about? Over reach. Mayor Filner wrote the GI Bill for Post 911 Veterans that allows for a 4-year college education. Mayor Filner with President Obama moved the issue of Ending Veterans Homeless from 2020 with children/families/everyone to 2015 with the Chronic Homeless. The ladies deserve an apology.

Randy Dotinga
Randy Dotinga memberauthor

Do you believe it's OK for the mayor to hit on constituents, and make them think there's a quid pro quo for his assistance, in the mayor's office?

La Playa Heritage
La Playa Heritage

The only help could involve a phone call or letter to the Veterans Administration and the Federal Government on behalf of the women. Mayor Filner agreed to help when both women were in the meeting with staff. Not at the time clueless Filner asked the friend for her phone number. As a City Official, Mayor Filner can advocate to Federal officials. The Federal government still makes the call for the lady's specific issue, or any Veterans issue. Not a local city Mayor.