SAN DIEGO - The City Council Tuesday voted unanimously to authorize a cross-complaint against Bob Filner to protect municipal coffers against a sexual harassment lawsuit and also to deny public funding for the San Diego mayor's defense.
The decisions involve the case of former mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, who hired high-profile Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred and sued Filner and the city last week, alleging repeated instances of unwanted sexual advances by the mayor.
The cross-complaint is a separate lawsuit in which, if the city is found to have liability in the case, it can try to recover whatever damages are paid out.
"In plain English, this means that the city, if it has to pay out any damages to plaintiffs related to the mayor's bad actions, we will require that the mayor to pay us back, and that we'll seek our own attorney's fees and other costs to be paid by Mr. Filner," council President Todd Gloria said in a statement read to the media after the second of two closed session meetings.
The council also unanimously rejected a request by a private lawyer hired by the mayor, Harvey Berger, to have the city pay for Filner's defense against McCormack Jackson's lawsuit.
"As mayor, Bob Filner was elected to serve San Diego and its citizens. He was not elected to mistreat and disrespect San Diegans or members of his staff," Gloria said. "San Diegans have every right to expect service from the mayor. The mayor has no right to a blank check from San Diegans to defend his egregious behavior."
"The discussion was very professional and straightforward," said Councilman Kevin Faulconer. The council came to right decision unanimously."
Public funding for outside counsel for city employees is not an unusual step when a worker is sued over something within the scope of his job, but the lawsuit doesn't stem from his official duties, Gloria said.
McCormack Jackson is one of eight women who have accused the mayor of unwanted sexual advances, but she is the only one so far to go to court to seek damages.
The City Attorney's Office has been investigating McCormack Jackson's claims and has scheduled a deposition with the mayor for Aug. 9. However, Filner is scheduled to begin two weeks of behavioral therapy on Monday.