San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has argued that the city should pay for his legal defense against a sexual harassment lawsuit, considering the city never provided state-required sexual harassment training.
The argument was made in a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and published on Wednesday, noting that a training session had once been scheduled, but later canceled. The letter was sent one day before the City Council voted unanimously to deny Filner funds.
Filner’s lawyer, Harvey Berger, said that while sexual harassment might be an obvious thing to avoid for some, many people are unaware of what is illegal under California state law.
"This is not an excuse for any inappropriate behavior which may have occurred, but having conducted sexual harassment training many times over the years, I have learned that many people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law,” Berger said.
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Filner’s former Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson is suing the mayor for sexual harassment suffered by herself and at least eight other women during their time in Filner’s office. McCormack alleges that Filner asked her to work without underwear, demanded she kiss him and asked to see her naked.
The city’s residents and seven of the nine City Council members have asked for Filner’s resignation.
The 10-term congressman also faces questions about a trip to Paris he took with the Organization of Iranian-American Communities, which paid $9,839 in airfare, lodging and meals for Filner. Though the mayor might only receive $440 in gifted funds a year, Filner argued that the group had defined itself as a nonprofit under IRS guidelines, which would have allowed him to legally accept the funding.