Mayor Filner’s Lawyer: City Should Pick Up Legal Fees Because Filner Didn’t Get Sexual Harassment Training

Mayor Bob Filner of San Diego speaks at a press conference announcing his intention to seek professional help for sexual harassment issues July 26, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo: Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (TheBlaze/AP) — The attorney for San Diego’s embattled mayor Bob Filner says that since the city failed to provide state-required sexual harassment training, it should pay to defend him against a lawsuit by his former communications director, who alleges he asked her to work without wearing panties. She is one of at least eight women making claims against the mayor.

Doug Powers sarcastically commented at MichelleMalkin.com: “San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is a victim, just like his alleged, uh, victims…”

Filner’s lawyer Harvey Berger made the argument in a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith one day before the City Council voted unanimously to deny Filner funds for his legal defense.

Local media published parts of the letter Wednesday.  One of the more unique passages reads:

While, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, many might argue that “you don’t need a weatherperson to tell you which way the wind blows,” and an adult male should not need sexual harassment training, I would point out that in his decades of public service for the people of San Diego as a U.S. Representative, Mayor Filner never received sexual harassment training. This is not an excuse for any inappropriate behavior which may have occurred, but having conducted sexual harassment training scores of times over the years, I have learned that many – if not most – people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law.

Filner is facing allegations of unwanted advances from at least eight women, including his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, who filed a lawsuit July 22 against the mayor and the city. In the lawsuit, McCormack alleges Filner asked Jackson to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked, and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

The accusations have prompted a recall effort and a chorus of calls for Filner to resign, including from seven of nine City Council members.

Dealing a double rebuke to its mayor, the council voted unanimously Tuesday to sue Filner to require the mayor pay for any damages or attorney fees out of his own pocket if the city is held liable. It also moved to deny Filner funds for his legal defense.

“His employers, San Diego taxpayers, did not have to bail him out for the mess he created,” City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.

Under state law, Filner cannot accept more than $440 a year in donated services from his attorney, and campaign money can be used only to defend against alleged violations of the state’s campaign finance law, said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

He can, however, create a legal defense fund, Ravel said.

More on the story from FOX5:

Filner, who is 70 and divorced, said Friday he would enter two weeks of “intensive” therapy on Aug. 5, defying calls from his own party leaders to resign. The former 10-term congressman is less than eight months into a four-year term. He is San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years.

Besides the sexual harassment allegations, Filner faces questions over a June trip to Paris that was sponsored by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities. On Wednesday, he said he would reimburse the group for his expenses, claiming it told him incorrectly that it had nonprofit status under Internal Revenue Service rules.

The mayor has said the group paid $9,839 in airfare, lodging and meals, which is well above the $440 he could accept each year as a gift under state law.

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