Washington pressure is mounting on embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner as Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz became the latest Democratic official to call on the former Democratic member of Congress to resign over an intensifying sexual harassment scandal.
Wasserman Schultz on Friday joined the Democratic Party of San Diego County's call for him to step down after seven woman have come forward to publicly accuse the mayor of unwanted sexual advances and crude behavior.
"The misconduct Mayor Bob Filner has been accused of is reprehensible and indefensible," Wasserman Schultz said. "I am personally offended by his actions, and I firmly believe no employee should face a hostile environment or harassment at their place of employment.
"There is no place for this type of conduct in the workplace and certainly not in our city halls and public offices," she continued. "For the good of the city of San Diego, I call on Mayor Filner to resign."
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., condemned actions by Filner and New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, another former Democratic colleague in the House, although she did not call on Filner to resign and said it was "up to the people of New York" whether Weiner should drop out of the race.
"If they're clueless, get a clue," she said Thursday at a press conference. "If they need therapy, do it in private."
Pelosi and Wasserman Schultz were instrumental in forcing Weiner to resign from the House in June 2011, although both leaders waited a week after the news about Weiner’s online activity broke before publicly calling for him to step down. Their public urging came after revelations that police were investigating Weiner’s interactions with an underaged girl over the Internet.
At the time, Pelosi expressed similar disgust for Weiner’s sexual Internet activity, saying the congressman should “seek the help” he needs “without the pressures of being a member of Congress."
Wasserman Schultz at the time called his behavior “indefensible” and his online activities a “sordid affair,” saying his “continued service in Congress is untenable.”
Before Wasserman Schultz’s statement Friday, national Democratic leaders for weeks had held their powder while the allegations of Filner’s inappropriate behavior toward women piled up. Prominent female Democrats were also largely silent while Filner was caught up in the sex scandal and new evidence broke of Weiner’s extramarital sexual online activity.
Left-leaning BuzzFeed noted the stark contrast among female Democrats when an elected Republican says or does something offensive. “Then Democratic women speak as one,” Buzzfeed wrote.
In San Diego, Filner has been accused of a myriad of inappropriate sexual harassment complaints. He allegedly has groped some women, asked them to “get naked,” and even told one women to work without “her panties on.”
The San Diego County Democratic Party’s central committee voted 34-6 for Filner to resign.
Afterward, party Chair Francine Busby said: “We are not here to determine guilt or innocence. However, in the best interests of the city, the San Diego County Democratic Party has asked Mayor Filner to step down to seek the personal help that he needs, to address his legal issues and allow the city of San Diego to move forward.”
So far, Filner has refused to resign, although he has acknowledged acting “inappropriately” in his dealings with women and staff members but says he is innocent of any specific act of sexual harassment.
Before Wasserman Schultz came forward, several Democratic women had declined to say he is unfit to be mayor and should step down.
Buzzfeed interviewed both Democratic U.S. senators from California earlier this week, and both stopped short of saying it was time for Filner to go.
“The people will take care of it and I just should stay out,” Sen. Dianne Feinsteiin, D-Calif., told Buzzfeed. “I think everybody knows the sensitivity around sexual harassment. It’s very serious and I think men have to learn. He said he’s asked for help. To the extent that he can get help and still be mayor, I don’t know. I can’t comment on that.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., went a little further, saying Filner should “consider” resigning.
Before Pelosi’s statements Thursday, referring to Filner and Weiner as “clueless” men who needed therapy, she declined to condemn Filner’s activities.
“What goes on in San Diego is up to the people of San Diego … my colleagues who represent San Diego have made their statements on the subject.”