U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, the federal government's top law enforcement official in San Diego, was not very happy with U.S. Rep. Bob Filner Sunday.
Filner appeared with his rival for the mayor's office Carl DeMaio at Temple Emanu-El Sunday in a forum designed to let a number of candidates speak and take questions from the audience. Duffy, as a member of the temple, helped organize the event.
She was not working in her capacity as head of the Justice Department's presence in San Diego.
The candidates had been told not to treat it as a debate. Filner, Duffy told me, "had issues."
"I know the event that was intended and it went far afield from what he was invited to do and I was sorry to see that happen," she told me.
Wherever Filner took it, DeMaio helped him get there. DeMaio challenged Filner to say he would not take a city pension if elected mayor. DeMaio said it would be a $120,000 pension and cited a Voice of San Diego report, which actually shows the majority of that pension would not come from the city.
DeMaio didn't mention that part.
It set Filner off.
"I wanted this to be a civil debate, but he's a liar. He knows he's a liar," Filner said from the podium at the temple. DeMaio's team posted a video of the exchange here.
Duffy sent an email apologizing to DeMaio's campaign, which the campaign then passed on to reporters. It was underneath an email with story ideas and links to that YouTube video and others.
Campaign Manager Ryan Clumpner claims forwarding the email to reporters was inadvertent. It showed Duffy was not pleased with Filner in the apology she sent DeMaio's team.
"Our apologies that Filner had to be admonished about his uncivil 'debate-style' remarks," Duffy wrote in the email to a DeMaio aide, Tommy Knepper. "If it is any consultation (sic), I heard more than one temple member express their view that he embarrassed himself and that they thought Carl appeared far more mature and capable of addressing the challenges San Diego faces."
If Filner was guilty of making “’debate-style’ remarks,” it’s hard to see how DeMaio didn’t also bend the rules (though he kept a cooler head). DeMaio originally lobbed the question that set Filner off during a mayoral debate.
I contacted Duffy to verify it and asked whether she wanted to elaborate.
"That email was a personal email I sent. It was an honest observation and not an endorsement of any kind," she told me.
"We had every single solitary candidate from every single race that was relevant to that community come to Temple Emanu-El. They went in pairs. Everything proceeded very professionally except for that particular pairing," Duffy said.
The Filner campaign declined to comment.