Filner's Chief Of Staff: City Running At 'Highest Level Of Integrity'
UPDATE: According to a July 17 letter from Filner's attorney to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the move to disallow Filner from meeting with women on city property came from Goldsmith.
"While I believe it is highly inappropriate under the circumstances, pending the investigation, Mr. Filner will comply with your request to avoid meeting alone with women on City business or in a City building," wrote Harvey Berger, who represents Filner.
"If you are going to insist on such a rule, Mr. Filner would request a prompt and objective investigation ... to avoid having this turn into a bigger media event than it already is, with the understanding that if not warranted, such a restriction will be withdrawn promptly."
Lee Burdick, Filner's chief of staff, told the Rachel Maddow Show that she and the mayor crafted the policy together. She did not start working as Filner's chief of staff until July 24, one week after the letter was delivered to Goldsmith.
Burdick served as Filner's deputy chief of staff prior to that date.
In one of her first interviews since taking on the role as chief of staff for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, Lee Burdick said the mayor's administration is "using this opportunity to...really develop a foundation" for supporting Filner's vision for the city.
Burdick spoke Tuesday to the Rachel Maddow Show about a recently adopted rule that the mayor is no longer allowed to meet alone with women, and whether Filner is able to govern the city in light of sexual harassment allegations that have been leveled against him.
In response to a pointed question from Melissa Harris-Perry, who filled in for host Rachel Maddow, about whether it is discriminatory to bar women from meeting alone with the mayor, Burdick said the rule is a way to protect "both the mayor and the citizens of San Diego" and to insure that city business is "being done with the highest level of integrity."
Burdick said she and the mayor developed the policy as a "reasonable and prudent business practice in light of the allegations being leveled against him."
She added that "there is no reason in an open and transparent government why anyone should need to meet alone with the mayor."
The mayor's office has issued few statements and granted only a handful of interviews since allegations came to light that he sexually harassed numerous women.
Burdick told Harris-Perry that the move to "hunker down" is strategic.
"The mayor is surrounded by very sophisticated advisers who are committed to his progressive vision," she said. "We're actually using this opportunity ... to really develop a foundation for supporting that vision and moving it forward both while he is away ... and when he comes back..."
Filner is set to start two weeks of intensive behavioral therapy Aug. 5. He said during a press conference Friday that he would continue to be briefed on city business during that time.
Burdick also told Harris-Perry that Filner deserves due process and that the legal process will prove whether the allegations against Filner are true.
"I know that at the end of the day, if the mayor has done what he is accused of doing, that process will result in the correct remedy," she said. "I've got to make sure that the business of San Diego moves forward."
Burdick is Filner's third chief of staff since the story broke three weeks ago.