Am I going to be forced to give Gloria Allred credit for consistency, here? I wrote Friday that it would take “Anchorman” references to get this story national coverage, but maybe Allred will do the trick. If there’s one thing she knows how to do…
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the mayor, she and her attorney, Gloria Allred, said at a news conference Monday.
“I am coming forward today to lay the blame at the feet of the person responsible, Mayor Bob Filner,” McCormack Jackson said after detailing her experience being harassed by the Mayor. “He is not fit to be mayor of our great city. He is not fit to hold any public office.”
McCormack Jackson is the first woman to come forward publicly to accuse Filner; in recent weeks he has faced anonymous allegations that he harassed “numerous” women. Allred said that Filner had asked McCormack Jackson to “work without her panties on,” placed her in a headlock and told her that he wanted to consummate their relationship, among other incidents of harassment.
“Women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots,” said McCormack Jackson, a former reporter who resigned from her position as communications director in June. “His behavior made me feel ashamed, frightened and violated.”
“For some of what we stated, there were witnesses,” added Allred, who called on Filner to resign.
The details of the allegations:
Mayor Bob Filner’s former communications director filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on Monday against the leader of the nation’s eighth-largest city, alleging he asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses and dragged her around in a headlock while whispering sexual advances.
Irene McCormack Jackson offered lurid details in the lawsuit that made her the first person to publicly identify herself as a target of the mayor’s advances since some of Filner’s most prominent former supporters said nearly two weeks ago that he sexually harassed women and demanded that he resign.
McCormack, as she is known professionally, said at a news conference that she took a $50,000-a-year pay cut while accepting the job in January — two months after Filner was elected to a four-year term as the city’s first Democratic leader in 20 years after he spent 10 terms in Congress.
“I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women,” McCormack said alongside her attorney, Gloria Allred, one of the most widely known civil rights attorneys in the country.
“He is not fit to be the mayor of our great city,” McCormack added.
The party apparatus in San Diego has declined to demand Filner’s resignation. He retains the support of even a female council member who reported the sexual harassment accusations of six—count ’em six— women two years ago only to have the party ignore the problem. Filner himself has admitted to “not respecting” the women he worked with and “intimidating” them, saying he needs “help,” which suggests a compulsive nature to the behavior that doesn’t promise this will end soon for him.
Meanwhile in Washington, D.C. Buzzfeed notices the messaging from Democratic women leaders is by no means as unified as it is when Republicans are at issue:
Top California Democratic women — from Sen. Barbara Boxer to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — have hedged on explicitly calling on Filner to step down but made their disapproval with his behavior clear.
Pelosi told a reporter on Thursday to not identify Filner “as my former colleague” and said at her weekly press conference, “What goes on in San Diego is up to the people of San Diego…my colleagues who do represent San Diego have made their statements on the subject.”
Boxer, who led the charge in the Senate against Republican Sen. Bob Packwood in the 1990s when he was accused of repeated sexual harassment, told BuzzFeed that the accusations against Filner “shocked” her and said that resignation “certainly should be on his plate, and he ought to consider it.”
“I’ve watched him support all of these pro-family, pro-women policies so I was totally shocked,” she said.
Rep. Maxine Waters said she “couldn’t believe” the news about Filner and said there was no indication to her he behaved that way in Congress.
“I don’t want to comment further,” she said. “From what I’ve read in the news, it’s crazy but I don’t know much more than that.”
An Emily’s List representative helpfully, with surprising candor, explains that it doesn’t matter how Democratic politicians actually treat real-life women in professional or personal interactions because they vote for the right programs, you see:
“The difference is that Republicans’ words and personal actions are backed up by an actual party legislative agenda that hurts women — this stuff goes from infuriating and outrageous to genuinely frightening when they’re trying to back it up with real live laws that roll back the clock to a time when women were treated as second class citizens,” Emily’s List Communications Director Jess McIntosh said. “Akin only mattered because Republicans had already tried to redefine rape in legislation — the Republicans gaffing all over the place when it comes to women are not outliers. They are reflective of their party’s actual agenda.”