The fallout over the sexual assault and harassment scandal of San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher grew over the past several days, with Fletcher now facing calls to immediately resign instead of a planned resignation next month and new information showing that Fletcher spent $1.9 million in taxpayer money on security for himself.
The scandal began early last week, when Fletcher dropped out of the state Senate race stating PTSD issues, which he claims came from alcohol abuse and childhood trauma. He quickly left the state for treatment. Less than 48 hours later on March 29th, the next bombshell hit, with a former San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) employee, Grecia Figueroa, suing Fletcher over alleged sexual harassment and retaliation, in the form of her losing her job.
Fletcher, who has been a County Supervisor since 2019 and was also an Assemblyman from 2008 to 2012, quickly admitted to having an affair while denying the harassment and retaliation allegations. In a statement, the Supervisor said, “Last year, I made a terrible mistake engaging in consensual interactions with someone outside my marriage. I made clear it could not continue or advance and desperately hoped I could leave this mistake in my past. However, this individual and an attorney demanded millions of dollars from me and my family with the threat of not only embarrassment but a willingness to lie about the circumstances and nature of the interactions.”
Others quickly came to support him, including, surprisingly, his wife, former Assemblywoman and current California Labor Federation leader Lorena Gonzalez.
However, only hours later, the lawsuit, Grecia Figueroa V. Nathan Fletcher, was released, showing not only worse allegations of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault and Battery on top of the previously known retaliation allegations, but also numerous images and screenshots of texts dating back to late 2021 showing just how deep the affair was.
The consequence of this release was swift. Support for Fletcher quickly evaporated, with the MTS kicking him off the board. Support dwindling, Fletcher then announced that he would be resigning on May 15th from the County Board of Supervisors, the closest date he could officially resign due to being on medical leave.
“The accusations made this past week against Supervisor Fletcher and the Metropolitan Transit System are serious and warrant full investigations. They also have a significant human impact – to individuals, to families, to residents, and to organizations that are home to dedicated public servants,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Friday. “Given what we know now, the Supervisor’s resignation was appropriate. With that, I have full confidence that in Chairwoman Nora Vargas to lead our County during this time. Simultaneously, I believe that Acting Chair Stephen Whitburn will guide the MTS board to properly address this situation.”
Fletcher’s woes didn’t end with his resignation announcement however. A second accuser, Amanda, a former intern for the Three Wise Men Foundation, came forward and also accused him of harassment. She claims that, in 2015, she flew with Fletcher to Minnesota in 2015. There, Fletcher told her that she was “hot” and began to touch her inappropriately. While she reported this to her supervisor, nothing ultimately came of it.
A spokesman for Fletcher denied these accusations, noting that the accusations were bizarre and that e-mail evidence found the accusations to be false, as well as no one else there seeing anything unusual.
“These accusations are false and clearly not true as verified by others at the event and emails from the time,” said the Fletcher spokesman. “This is just piling onto an existing media frenzy.”
Scandals, investigations pile up for Fletcher
Another investigation by KUSI found that Fletcher, without telling the public, spent $1.9 million on a private security detail with taxpayer money due to feeling “unsafe” around other people in San Diego. The security, handled by Pinkerton, was active from September 2021 to at least the end of February 2023. Many also decried not only that taxpayers paid for it, but also that it happened during a time of mounting economic downturn in San Diego County.
“Security details aren’t cheap, and Fletcher decided to go with the Cadillac of security despite no real threats being there, at least until last week,” said Frank Ma, a security expert in San Francisco, to the Globe on Tuesday. “At the very least, he should have gone through the proper channels to get a security detail if it is being paid with taxpayer money, and right now, it’s not really clear. The fact they haven’t given evidence to support that is a bit worrying.”
Finally, Fletcher is now, on top of everything else, facing more pressure to resign immediately. PTSD veterans organizations, jarred by Fletcher’s claims of PTSD and using it to “explain” his sexual assault, came out fully against Fletcher on Monday.
“When I heard that County Supervisor Fletcher had dropped the term PTSD in conjunction with his sexual assault allegation, my jaw dropped,” said Disabled Veterans PAC chairman Jason Gilbert. “I can assure you there is no epidemic of sexual assault from PTSD veterans, but there is an epidemic of suicide and I’m very concerned about at-risk veterans with PTSD watching this story on the news and becoming distressed or angry that PTSD is now being associated with sexual assault.”
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