Politics

DeGette Says Former Rep. Bob Filner Groped and Tried to Kiss Her

Colorado congresswoman is first to publicly identify attacker in string of recent sexual assault allegations

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., said Monday former Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., tried to kiss her in a Capitol Hill elevator when they were both in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Diana DeGette said Monday former California Rep. Bob Filner tried to sexually assault her in an elevator on the Hill “some years ago.”

The Colorado Democrat’s revelation marks the first time in a string of recent allegations from current lawmakers who say they were sexually harassed by members of Congress that the victim has publicly named the accused.

“Some years ago, I was in an elevator and then-Congressman Bob Filner tried to pin me to the door of the elevator and kiss me and I pushed him away,” DeGette told MSNBC.

DeGette had previously told her family about the incident, but Monday was the first time she has gone public, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“I was his colleague, he couldn’t take action against me. And believe you me, I never got into an elevator with him again,” Degette said.

Filner served in the House from 2003 until 2012 before being elected mayor of San Diego. He stepped down in 2013 after multiple women came forward alleging Filner made unwanted sexual overtures to them.

Other female lawmakers have recently revealed that they have been sexually harassed.

Four female Democratic senators, including Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, described their experiences last month.

Reps. Barbara Comstock, Jackie Speier, and Zoe Lofgren testified during a hearing by the House Administration Committee on sexual harassment last Tuesday that at least two current lawmakers have sexually harassed congressional staff in the past.

“I have had numerous meetings and phone calls with staff members both present and former, women and men who have been subjected to this inexcusable and oftentimes illegal behavior,” Speier, a California Democrat, said.

“These harassers [made] propositions such as ‘Are you going to be a good girl?’” Speier said. She also spoke of misconduct from “perpetrators exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor.”

Speier and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York introduced legislation last week that aims to curb sexual harassment on the Hill. The legislation, dubbed the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act, or ME TOO Congress, would make response training for sexual harassment mandatory for all members and staff, including interns and fellows.

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