Anthony Weiner's San Diego Double
In the annals of creep, New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner has been getting the monster's share of ink lately. And yet, at this very moment, in the mayoralty of a large city on the opposite coast, an equally egregious case of politico-sexual misconduct is unfolding.
Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner have more than bad habits in common. Like Weiner, Filner was a liberal Democrat of no great legislative impact in the U.S. House of Representatives; through 10 terms in office, he also lacked Weiner's impressive talent for getting booked on television shows. (Weiner does have an unusual affinity for visual media.)
As his congressional district grew increasingly Hispanic, it seemed only a matter of time before Filner, who is Jewish, succumbed to a primary challenge. Instead, in 2012 Filner ran for mayor of San Diego and won. Creepiness ensued.
Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, said this week that Filner held her in a headlock and suggested she forgo panties at work. She quit in June. "I had to work and do my job in an atmosphere where women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots," Jackson said.
Another woman, political consultant Laura Fink, said that Filner harassed her in 2005, when she was his deputy campaign manager. Yesterday, a third woman came forward, alleging that Filner had repeatedly tried to kiss her.
As if to confirm such allegations preemptively, Filner issued a statement earlier this month when rumors began to swirl. "I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them," Filner said.
That's a pretty impressive piece of self-damnation, all but admitting that he created a hostile work environment for women. (The man is definitely missing the services of his communications director.)
Filner's problem seems worse than Weiner's. In the latter case, Weiner's wife -- a powerful woman in her own right -- seems to be the chief victim. But perhaps that's overly simplistic: Filner is 70, Weiner is 48. Maybe this is just a case of old-school intimidation versus tech-savvy bullying. Filner is still in office in San Diego. Weiner's still running for mayor of New York. And between the coasts, others of their ilk are no doubt blithely going about their business.
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Frank Wilkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org