Congresswoman says former congressman tried to forcibly kiss her in an elevator

"And believe you me, I never got into an elevator with him again."

Former congressman and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. CREDIT: AP Photo/U-T San Diego,  John Gastaldo, Pool
Former congressman and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. CREDIT: AP Photo/U-T San Diego, John Gastaldo, Pool

Less than a week after allegations of sexual harassment were made against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), a member of Congress came forward to detail her own harassment experience while working on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) appeared on MSNBC’s Meet The Press Daily Monday and said her then-colleague Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) tried to forcibly kiss her while they were in an elevator together.

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 and, of course, some years later he left congress he became the mayor of San Diego, and then he had to leave that position for harassing younger women,” DeGette said. “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 referred to Filner’s very public history of sexual harassment after his 20-year tenure in Congress while he was mayor of San Diego.

During his time as mayor, dozens of women, veterans in particular, came forward and recounted instances of Filner groping, kissing, and making a number of unwanted advances.

“He went to dinners, asked women out to dinners, grabbed breasts, buttocks. The full gamut. Everything that is complete violation of what we stand for,” Tara Jones, president of the National Women’s Veterans Association of America in San Diego told CNN. “He’s a sexual predator. And he used this organization for his own personal agenda.”

Eventually Filner pleaded guilty to three charges, one a felony false imprisonment charge, the other two misdemeanor battery charges. The felony charge said Filner forcibly restrained a woman at a fund-raising event, while the misdemeanor charges say he kissed a woman on the lips without her consent at City Hall and groped a woman innapropriately after she asked to have her picture taken with him at a rally. Nineteen women in total made accusations of sexual harassment against Filner. He was sentenced to 90 days of home confinement, three years’ probation, and $1,500 dollars worth of fines.

With a second accusation against Franken and new allegations against New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush and television host Charlie Rose, the “Weinstein effect” is hitting powerful men hard. Surely the women who have come forward to accuse these powerful men and others won’t be the last.

“I think that many members of Congress, certainly professional women, have been harassed over the years and I’m certainly no different. What strikes me in this conversation is that a lot of my colleagues and others have said this is going on, but they seem somehow so reluctant to say who did it,” DeGette told MSNBC. “And I don’t really understand that because it seems to me — particularly if those people are still in Congress, or whatever the profession is — then they’re still getting away with it.”