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Statement: “By the way, you were subpoenaed to the court. I was not,” Bob Filner, a candidate for San Diego mayor, said to his opponent Carl DeMaio in an August 14 debate.

Determination: False

Analysis: A pension initiative overwhelmingly approved by voters in June continues to be a major theme of San Diego’s mayoral election.

Though an outspoken opponent of the initiative during the primary election, Congressman Bob Filner now says he’d implement a key provision that will freeze the portion of city workers’ salary that goes toward their pensions until 2019.

And at a debate this week, Filner’s opponent, City Councilman Carl DeMaio, attempted to define the difference between his own backing of the initiative and Filner’s. DeMaio boasted that he had attended a court hearing to show his support for the initiative, while Filner hadn’t.

Filner, however, responded that DeMaio was required to be there.

“By the way, you were subpoenaed to the court,” Filner said. “I was not.”

But DeMaio was not subpoenaed.

At issue in this case is whether city leaders, chiefly Mayor Jerry Sanders, illegally bypassed labor negotiations by putting the initiative directly before the voters. Sanders, six current and former aides, City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a deputy city attorney and the city’s human resources director were subpoenaed.

Filner didn’t make this error just once. In his effort to score points over DeMaio, Filner said four times that DeMaio was subpoenaed. He didn’t relent when DeMaio corrected him. Anyone attending the debate who wasn’t familiar with the case’s particulars would have no idea which candidate was telling the truth.

Filner’s statement is False. There’s no element of truth to the claim that DeMaio was subpoenaed, and Filner repeatedly used the inaccurate information to make an argument against his opponent.

The claim is easily verifiable, too. We simply emailed the City Attorney’s Office to ask for a list of those subpoenaed. Filner’s campaign could have done the same, checked the court record or spoke with the city’s white-collar union, which filed the lawsuit. The union has endorsed Filner.

Here’s a transcript of the full exchange. Keep in mind that Filner and DeMaio started talking over each other and at one point DeMaio references the debate moderator, Daily Transcript Editor Joe Guerin.

BF: By the way, you were subpoenaed to the court, I was not.

CD: I was not subpoenaed to the court.

BF: You were subpoenaed because you were …

CD: I was not subpoenaed to the court. Let me make things perfectly clear. No, Joe, this is important. Bob Filner, Bob Filner says things that he knows are not true. This is another perfect example.

BF: How am I supposed to show up in court? I am not part of the proceedings. I’m a United States congressman.

CD: You said you want pension reform, and you had an opportunity to go to the court with other civic leaders.

BF: You were called before the court to explain why you went around the state law to carry out [the initiative].

CD: Bob, I was certainly not. Your facts are again wrong.

BF: Well, the court will decide that, who the facts were right. But I was never called to court, Carl. You were.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

You can also e-mail new Fact Check suggestions to factcheck@voiceofsandiego.org. What claim should we explore next?

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects.

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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