Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

History of sex scandals among Democrats

 April 7, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Friday, April 7th.


A history of high-profile sex-related scandals among Democrats.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


A White House report blames the rushed exit out of Afghanistan on the Trump Administration.

The report also acknowledges that President Biden waited too long to begin evacuations.

Navy veteran and co-founder of Afghan Evac, Shawn VanDiver, says he welcomes the report, but that Congress could act now to alleviate some of the consequences of the rushed withdrawal.

“We need to see Congress take action by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act today.”

The bipartisan bill would grant a pathway to permanent residency to the more than 100-thousand Afghans resettled in the U.S.


The U-S border patrol is warning migrants of recent armed robberies and assaults in the Otay Mountain wilderness area.

Three were reported at the end of last month.

One group told agents, the robbers had guns, and ordered them to pay to be allowed to continue their journey.

The migrants said that when they couldn’t come up with the money, the thieves stole their cell phones.

Agents reported the cases to the Mexican government.


An independent investigation will soon get underway into sexual assault and harassment allegations made by a former M-T-S employee against former M-T-S board president Nathan Fletcher.

M-T-S has said they didn’t know about the allegations until last week.

But a letter from the former M-T-S employee’s lawyer demanding her employment records, would seem to suggest otherwise… It’s dated February 17th.

When asked if someone at M-T-S was keeping the letter secret from the M-T-S board, acting board chair Stephen Whitburn said this.

“We have as a board decided that we are going to hire an independent counsel to help us specifically to help us understand some of the questions that are being asked.”

Whitburn says the investigation will be expeditious and thorough, and that the results will be made public.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is the latest in a line of local Democrats to fall from grace amid sexual misconduct claims.

In fact, investigative reporter Amita Sharma says Democratic sex scandals have been a feature of San Diego politics for decades.

Nathan Fletcher’s abrupt resignation from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors last week puts him in a notorious pantheon of local Democratic politicians … once promising political careers scuttled by sexual misconduct allegations or matters related to sex. “There tends to be this view that San Diego is this little Iowa on the Pacific Ocean.” Carl Luna is a Mesa College political science professor. “It’s just a nice little quiet place. But we have a ridiculously large number of scandals and that’s a sign that people are not holding politicians accountable.” The list spans decades. In 2005, Michael Zucchet and Ralph Insunza –  two rising Democrats  on the San Diego City Council – were convicted of taking illegal campaign cash from a strip club owner.  Zucchet’s conviction was overturned. Inzunza went to prison maintaining his innocence. “I believe I have done nothing wrong. I believe that what I did was all within the law.” Ten years ago, Democrat Bob Filner’s tenure as San Diego mayor ended after just nine-months when 13 women accused him of making unwanted sexual advances. “I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to respect the women who worked for me and with me and that at times, I have intimidated them.” In 2016, Supervisor Dave Roberts, the lone Democrat on the board, lost his re-election bid following a slew of allegations that included an inappropriate relationship with an office aide. Last year, a man accused Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the then head of the San Diego County Democratic Party, of sexual assault. Then, last week, a former MTS spokesperson filed a lawsuit alleging that Fletcher sexually harassed and assaulted her. A day later he announced his resignation. These scandals have not only been personally ruinous, but they’ve short-circuited eras when Democrats seem poised to dominate local politics. Consider that Filner had been  the first Democratic mayor to be elected in San Diego in 20 years. Following his resignation, Republican Kevin Faulconer won a special mayoral  election, and was in office until 2020. Fletcher’s downfall comes less than three years after Democrats gained a majority on the Board of Supervisors for the first time in decades. But even some adversaries of Democrats say the sex scandals should be looked at individually rather than a fatal flaw of the party. “As somebody who has worked against the Democratic party for 40 years or so, if I had an opportunity to make some kind of sweeping generalization, I'd be happy to do so. It’s not there. It just isn’t. Longtime Republican strategist John Kern says the sex scandals are more about the law of averages. There are more Democrats in office than Republicans. And he says it’s about the kind of people who’re drawn to politics. “I had two rules of behavior for all people in politics. Keep your fly zipped and your hand out of the till.” Mix in the trappings of elected office. And you’ve got the potential makings of a sex scandal, according to former Los Angeles Times reporter Tony Perry, who covered many San Diego political scandals. “It’s about men who have power and with power came a sense of entitlement. “ But Luna says the party isn’t blameless. The rumors about Fletcher were out there. “The San Diego Democratic Party tends to have a conveyor belt system of how you move up. You start at the city council. You move up to the board of supervisors, assembly. And if you’re on that train, the people above you and below you need you to stay there so there is a tendency to not want to hold people accountable.” He said the entire Democratic power structure in the county should look inward. “San Diego Democrats are in such an assured position to win that they can start to be choosier about who they are going to put into office.” Amita Sharma, KPBS News.


Affordable housing could be coming to the coast of Del Mar, which would help the city fall in line with state housing requirements.

Reporter Jacob Aere says not everyone is happy with the proposal.

It's getting met with some pushback … and alternative options.

A developer is aiming to build a 259-unit apartment complex on an ocean bluff in Del Mar with 85 subsidized apartments … and they've submitted additional plans to the city. Pro-housing advocate Kevin Sabellico says the Seaside Ridge project is a great idea ... but acknowledges it will be an uphill battle against the city of Del Mar and some local residents. “There is a developer who wants to put a project right there on the bluff. And the city of Del Mar would like to say no, but they don't have a compliant housing element, so they can’t.” Del Mar city councilmember Dave Druker said the city will “first work to get affordable housing at the Fairgrounds,” and they will need a “memorandum of understanding to build those by April 2024.” He says if they’re unable to do that, the city of Del Mar will have to rezone the north bluff area and some areas of Del Mar’s south bluff to allow for 20 housing units per acre. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.


Coming up.... Our KPBS arts producer will fill you in on some weekend arts events she says are worth checking out. We’ll have that and more, just after the break.


The Aztecs’ historic March Madness run may be over, but reporter Melissa Mae tells us this is just the beginning of the benefits of making it to college basketball’s national championship.

MM: The Aztecs may not have won the championship, but their appearance is going to boost not only their basketball program, but the entire university will benefit. MM: Assistant coach David Velasquez says this run has affected the perception of SDSU and earned the respect this program deserves. DV “Universities affected by Final Four runs, there's no questions about it. The applications for admissions will just go through the roof. We've seen it with other teams like VCU, Wichita State, Butler, Loyola Chicago, teams that have gone to a Final Four, it’s absolutely affected, not just the men’s basketball program, but the university as a whole.” MM: According to SDSU, there has been an 88% increase in SDSU web page views. And a 59% increase in traffic to their admissions page and most notably, the school received an equivalent of two hundred million dollars in free advertising. Melissa Mae KPBS News.

TAG: There have been changes to how the S-D-S-U men’s basketball team will be honored this weekend.

Instead of a parade, there will be a celebration at Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley tomorrow night.

The head coach and players will give speeches.

Some concession stands will be open and team and Final Four merchandise will be for sale.

Admission and parking are free, but you must claim tickets in advance online at Go-Aztecs-dot-com-slash-M-B-B-celebration.


As we head into the weekend, my colleague Julia Dixon Evans has details on some weekend arts events happening in the county.

She spoke with Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.

And started by talking about all that’s going on with the Barrio Art Crawl.

Next up is an "Art Block Party" at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla on Sunday.

Let's close out with some music. You have a local show on your radar at the Casbah on Saturday night. Who is performing?

TAG: That was arts producer, Julia Dixon Evans, speaking with Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh.

You can find details on all these events, and more, at KPBS dot ORG slash ARTS.

And, as always, you can find more San Diego news online, at KPBS dot org.


That’s it for the podcast today. This podcast is produced by KPBS Senior Producer Brooke Ruth and Producer Emilyn Mohebbi. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great weekend.

Ways To Subscribe
San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is the latest in a line of local Democrats to fall from grace amid sexual misconduct claims. In other news, affordable housing could be coming to the coast of Del Mar, which would help the city fall in line with state housing requirements, but not everyone is happy with the proposal. Plus, we have some weekend arts events worth checking out.