After weeks of steadfastly resisting calls to step down (including from some within his own party) reports are circulating in southern California that the embattled first-term Democrat mayor of San Diego will resign as part of a settlement with the city and at least 18 women accusing Filner of harassing them.
Filner's decision to resign comes after three days of closed-door mediation and after six weeks of scandal in the city. At least 18 women have publicly accused Filner of sexual harassment, including one former aide who filed the lawsuit.
In exchange for his resignation, the city will pay some, if not all, of Filner’s share of any damages awarded in the lawsuit, said the sources, who spoke on the condition anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The City Council is set to vote on the settlement in a closed session Friday.
Filner, a Democrat, was seen Wednesday night loading boxes into an SUV parked outside City Hall -- and driven by a San Diego police officer, part of the mayor's security detail -- after saying farewell to his staff and cleaning out his office.
All nine council members and numerous other officials had called for Filner's resignation.
City Atty. Jan Goldsmith had said last week that he was working on “exit plans” for Filner. His office was preparing, “as a last resort,” to seek a restraining order against Filner to bar him from City Hall on grounds that he created a hostile working environment for women.
With Filner's resignation, San Diego's City Council President- Democrat Todd Gloria- will become acting mayor. According to the city's municipal code, a special election will take place within 90 days of Filner's resignation.
After serving in Congress for more than 20 years, Filner announced that he wouldn't run for re-election to the House of Representatives after California lost a seat due to redistricting in 2012 and instead run for mayor of San Diego. After securing endorsements from prominent Democrats such as former president Bill Clinton, Filner narrowly defeated former City Councilman Carl DeMaio in the 2012 mayoral race. While Filner is a Democrat and DeMaio is a Republican, county and municipal elections in California are theoretically non-partisan.
At least 18 women- some of them military veterans and survivors of sexual assault- came forward to accuse Filner of groping or fondling them as mayor or promising to help constituents as congressman, but only if they'd agree to go on a date with him.
The sheer number of accusers and relative silence of the media and local politicians raise the question of how long the local and state Democrat party had known about Filner's misconduct and what was done about it aside from sweeping it under the rug come election time.