San Diego mayor Bob Filner’s former Chief of Staff Vince Hall told Voice of San Diego he believes Filner did sexually harass Irene McCormack, his former communications director. Hall resigned on Friday, July 12.
He said that before he left the office, he told Filner to resign.
Nine women have accused Filner of sexual harassment, and one woman said he made her uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior. Many have demanded his resignation, but instead Filner has resisted and said he will enter therapy. He also blamed San Diego for not providing proper sexual harassment training, but Hall claims this is false.
In a June 20th staff meeting, McCormack confronted Filner about his behavior:
In her lawsuit, McCormack details the June 20 staff meeting where she and deputy chief of staff Allen Jones resigned. According to the filing, Filner had challenged her to cite one instance where she had been mistreated, and McCormack noted the time Filner had said she’d work better without her panties on.
Hall, who was in the meeting, confirmed McCormack’s account.
“She gave that horrific and disgusting example as she was exiting the room,” Hall said. “The conversation resumed after she had left with all of us in the room siding with the two individuals who had walked out, expressing in our strongest possible ways that the situation had to change immediately.”
Hall also confirms San Diego is not responsible for Filner missing sexual harassment training. The training is done online and can be taken at any time. The course must be taken within six months, and when Filner failed to do so, then-interim chief operating office Scott Chadwick, who was also working as the city’s human resource director, reported it to Hall.
“I knew that Mr. Chadwick would be in a position to more authoritatively describe to the mayor the importance and the legality of this requirement,” Hall said. “I directed him to have that conversation with the mayor, and he did.”
Hall noted that Filner did find the time to complete two separate two-hour ethics trainings and a 90-minute financial securities disclosure training.
“Mayor Filner is solely responsible for his failure to complete the required sexual harassment training,” Hall said.
Hall claims no one enjoyed working for Filner. Along with the sexual harassment, he claims Filner did not treat his staff well.
“The level of bullying, the frequency and the intensity of the mayor’s anger over the most trivial matters, the complete lack of any positive connection to people who were working so hard for his success was very, very disheartening and demoralizing and ultimately one of the reasons I left,” Hall said. “It was an ever-present, serious problem in the office and it is difficult to put into words for anyone who wasn’t there to understand just how vicious the outbursts could be and how dehumanizing the work environment was.”
Hall said he tried to protect the staff by holding interventions, but nothing worked. Filner challenged him by reminding him he’d been in office for 30 years and knew how to run an office.