Nathan Fletcher officially resigns from San Diego County Board of Supervisors
In his first public statement since leaving the state to enter a rehabilitation clinic, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher officially resigned from the position Monday, apologizing for his actions but denying he committed any crimes.
Fletcher announced March 29 his plans to resign effective May 15, while also admitting to an affair with a Metropolitan Transit System employee who is suing him for alleged sexual assault and harassment.
"I own, unequivocally, the responsibility for making the mistake of engaging in consensual interactions with someone outside of my marriage," he said in a statement to constituents Monday. "And while I strenuously deny the allegations you have no doubt heard levied against me, I apologize for letting down so many people important to me — my family, staff, constituents, supporters, and friends.
"I failed to live up to the standards I expect of myself, and those which are rightly demanded of our elected officials," Fletcher said. "You put your faith in me as your elected representative and I let you down and for that I am truly sorry."
"I'm glad to see this get over with and be done. It’s unfortunate what he did. It was nice to see the apology, but he's costing the county $5 million dollars in a general election that we have to go through," said his former colleague, 5th District Supervisor Jim Desmond.
Desmond said while he's not happy about the county having to shell out millions for the special election he is glad the county and his constituents can move on.
"We can move on with the governance of the county and the people of that district have an opportunity to elect a new representative to represent them in the county," he said, adding that Fletcher's staff have kept the office open to serve the constituents of the 4th Dist. and he is always available to help.
Desmond said the county has not been able to permanently fill the county’s chief administrative officer position because of Fletcher's vacant seat.
Fletcher was one of the most powerful politicians in the county when he announced March 26 that he was entering a treatment center for post-traumatic stress, trauma and alcohol abuse, and was abandoning a planned run for state Senate. Days later, he announced plans to resign his seat altogether, setting his departure date for May 15.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit against Fletcher, former Metropolitan Transit System Public Information Officer Grecia Figueroa, alleges that Fletcher groped her on two occasions and pursued a sexual relationship with her for months before she was abruptly fired on the day Fletcher announced his state Senate candidacy.
Figueroa alleges that beginning in 2021, Fletcher began "stalking" her social media account, then sought to meet with her privately on several occasions. On two of those occasions, she claims he assaulted her.
The complaint alleges Figueroa "was intimidated by the dynamic Fletcher had created" and says she "felt pressured to reciprocate Fletcher's advances because she knew he had authority as both a career-politician and as chair of the MTS Board to destroy her career at MTS and to potentially humiliate her publicly if she made him angry."
She alleges that on Feb. 6, she was fired during a closed-door meeting and believes "that MTS terminated her employment because she was sexually harassed by defendant Fletcher."
The lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court alleges sexual assault and battery and sexual harassment by Fletcher. It also names the MTS as a defendant and alleges sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment and retaliation, and whistleblower retaliation.
Fletcher denied Figueroa's charges, claiming the affair was consensual.
"It is disappointing that Mr. Fletcher continues to victim-blame, even amidst his forced resignation," Figueroa's attorney, Zach Schumacher, said in a statement Monday. "We look forward to conducting our own investigation, and we hope Mr. Fletcher will be cooperative as that happens. It is apparent that full accountability must come through the civil justice system."
Fletcher resigned April 4 as MTS chair.
"I fully support the independent investigation underway by MTS and know it will show that I had absolutely nothing to do with this individual's employment or termination," he said. "However, due process and legal proceedings do not move at the speed of public opinion, and this issue will take several years to fully resolve. It is most important that the vital work of the county government continue without distraction."
The other four members of the County Board of Supervisors earlier this month voted unanimously to hold a special election on Aug. 15 to fill the District 4 seat vacated by Fletcher on Monday.
If no candidate receives a majority vote in the Aug. 15 primary election, a special general election would be held Nov. 7, according to county officials. Costs could range between $3 million and $5.2 million if the county conducts a primary and general special election.
"My colleagues and I voted to hold a special election to fill the vacancy on the board and now it's time for the residents of District 4 to decide who they want to represent them," said Supervisor Joel Anderson.
Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego city councilwoman who recently announced that she was seeking the District 4 seat, said a special election was the best choice despite lack of direct representation for the next few months.
"I know it's hard in this moment, but I ask you not to change course today," she added.
Along with Montgomery Steppe, Marine Corps veteran Janessa Goldbeck is also a candidate for the District 4 seat.
Following Monday's news, ReOpen San Diego founder Amy Reichert officially declared her candidacy for the position. She ran against Fletcher in the previous election.
"There is a sense of feeling vindicated at this time, because I knew that I was challenging somebody who was not good for San Diego. So, today signifies a new day," she said.
The county's Interim Chief Administrative Officer, Helen Robbins-Meyer, said residents in the 4th Supervisorial District will still have services pending the election.
"Our county government will continue to deliver excellent service and support to the District 4 community during the transition of their elected leadership," she said. "The remaining staff of the District 4 Office are County of San Diego employees and will continue to meet the needs of residents, businesses and nonprofits. The Board of Supervisors agrees this is the best course of action to ensure the community is taken care of."
The District 4 Office will be operational Monday-Friday. Contact the office at 619-531-5544 or email at District4Office@sdcounty.ca.gov and visit https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/district4.