Ex-Staffers Silent on Mayor Filner's Behavior

Few employees who have left the mayor’s office since his term began seven months ago are willing to discuss why they left

Just this week in San Diego the mayor reportedly finished two weeks of therapy, a former employee was questioned by local law enforcement about her sexual harassment allegations and new allegations of quid pro quo were handed up to state and federal investigators.

Meanwhile, one group of citizens has launched a recall campaign and military veterans who are also sex assault victims demanded to know why those in power stayed silent for so long regarding Mayor Bob Filner’s self-described “wrong” and “inexcusable” treatment of women.

NBC 7 has learned few employees who have left the mayor’s office since his term began seven months ago are willing to discuss why they left.

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

NBC 7 Investigates obtained a list of former employees through a Public Records Act request.

Out of 34 staffers hired by Filner when he moved into the mayor’s office in December, 15 left within Filner’s first 7 months in office. Of those, 10 were women.

One is former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson who was transferred to work for the City Operations Officer on July 7. McCormack Jackson has since filed a lawsuit alleging the mayor’s office was a place where women were treated as “sexual objects or stupid idiots” and accusing Mayor Filner of sexual harassment.

Of the men, deputy chief of staff Allen Jones resigned and Chief of Staff Vince Hall left saying Filner created a quote "dehumanizing" work environment.

Only two former staffers are willing to discuss why they left.

Steve Hadley joined the staff on December 3 as the mayor’s Deputy Director of Open Government. The city’s records show he left on April 27.

When NBC 7 asked Hadley why he chose to leave his job after just five months, he would not talk about it but instead, forwarded the statement he made to the City Council 10 days ago. Read his comments here.

As he demanded that the mayor resign, Hadley claimed no credible rehab center would send Filner back to his job as mayor.

The “people surrounding the mayor have been used so pervasively to enable his horrific behavior,” Hadley told the council.

“Only when there is a new leader can we expect the women of this City to have any confidence in their personal safety when they attend events, meetings, briefings or simply converse on the street corner with our mayor,” he wrote.

Another former employee, who asked not to be identified, worked for Filner while he served in Congress and again when he served as San Diego’s mayor.

"There was a definite lack of leadership in the overall office and the way the office was run,” the man told NBC 7.

He admitted that he didn't leave because of the mayor's alleged sexual harassment of women but because he said Filner was a difficult boss.

He also said the allegations don’t surprise him.

“If there was a female in the meeting he'd try to get close to her. He'd put his arm around them. Always try to flirt with the females,” the former employee said.

When asked if anyone ever confronted the mayor about his behavior, the former employee said he was not aware.

“All the hard work we did is all tarnished by what he's done. What he's accused of doing,” the ex-staffer told NBC 7.

Key Players in Mayor Under Fire

Executive Receptionist Caroline Ledesma who transferred on June 24 after working in the office for 15 years declined to discuss her decision to leave. She has since transferred to the Development Services Department.

Attorney and former Director of Appointments & Compliance Lea Fields Bernard, who transferred to HR in April 2013, handled the request to release the list to NBC 7 but would not comment about the allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Executive Assistant to the Mayor Sandra Laird stayed on until December 20, 2012 after working for Mayor Sanders for seven years.

NBC 7 has been unable to contact former Deputy Director of Scheduling Nancy Contreras who held the position for 33 days.

Former Protocol Officer Jessica Gomez whose last day on staff was four days after the lawsuit was filed against the mayor has not responded to our request for an interview.

Former Director of Scheduling Brenda Lugo has not responded to repeated requests for an interview. Lugo was no longer working in the mayor’s office after 70 days of employment.

NBC 7 has also reached out to former Director of Scheduling Loretta Martinez for an interview but she has not responded. Martinez last worked for the mayor on Feb. 9, just two days before Lugo’s last day.

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