San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher resigned on Thursday following a week of controversy over a major lawsuit alleging claims of sexual assault and harassment, as well as over an announcement that he had an extramarital affair, with the woman now suing him.
Earlier this week, 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, leaving many commentators to note on the suddenness of the announcement. Less than 48 hours later on Wednesday, 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.”
His wife, former Assemblywoman and current California Labor Federation head Lorena Gonzalez, also publicly scrutinized over messages earlier in the week supporting her husband when older tweets were brought up showing her disdain for anyone giving unwanted sexual contact.
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.
Among the most damning in the suit are several messages where Fletcher texted Figueroa and asked for sex, stating that his wife and kids were not at home at the time:
Texts insisting on keeping the Affair discreet through private locations and through deleting text messages:
Texts about meeting in hotel rooms:
And texts all the way up to early this year of Supervisor Fletcher repeatedly trying to meet with her again and again:
In addition, the suit also claims that Fletcher not only sexually harassed her and that it led to her being fired, but that he had also touched her sexually and without consent on numerous occasions and caused her distress, amounting to assault and battery. As the MTS Board Chairman, Fletcher is also alleged to have ended her career at MTS last month following the breakdown of their relationship.
“Figueroa 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,” the suit alleges. “She received no warning, no opportunity to speak with her supervisor or anyone else at MTS and she was required to leave immediately without gathering any of her personal belongings. Figueroa believes that MTS terminated her employment because she was sexually harassed by Defendant Fletcher.”
Fletcher out as SD County Supervisor, MTS Board Chairman
The even worse than realized allegations, combined with all the previous incidents this week and the strain that the growing scandal was putting on him and his family, led to Fletcher resigning on Thursday. While he can’t officially resign until the end of his current medical leave brought on by the PTSD recovery, Fletcher made it clear in a series of Tweets on Thursday that he would give his letter of resignation as soon as possible from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
“The strain on my wife and family over this past week has been immense and unbearable,” tweeted Fletcher late Wednesday night. “A combination of my personal mistakes plus false accusations has created a burden that my family shouldn’t have to bear. I will be resigning from the Board of Supervisors, effective at the end of my medical leave. I will focus solely on getting healthy and being a good husband, father and friend. I am grateful to my constituents for the honor of serving you, my incredible team who worked tirelessly to make a real difference, and our county workers who put it all on the line for those most in need everyday. I am proud of what we accomplished together. My decision today is solely based on what is best for my family.”
The strain on my wife and family over this past week has been immense and unbearable. A combination of my personal mistakes plus false accusations has created a burden that my family shouldn’t have to bear. I will be resigning from the Board of Supervisors, effective
— Nathan Fletcher (@nathanfletcher) March 30, 2023
Following news that he would no longer be on the MTS board as well, his wife gave a brief Tweet of support late on Wednesday.
“I love my husband,” tweeted Gonzalez. “He has acknowledged his mistakes & I believe his name will be cleared of false accusations. Still, I asked him to resign to lessen the strain on our family. I’m relieved he is finally getting treatment he needs. Thank you to everyone who has reached out today.”
I love my husband. He has acknowledged his mistakes & I believe his name will be cleared of false accusations. Still, I asked him to resign to lessen the strain on our family. I’m relieved he is finally getting treatment he needs. Thank you to everyone who has reached out today. https://t.co/srNQoLaAFE
— Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (@LorenaSGonzalez) March 30, 2023
Political experts on Thursday noted that Fletcher’s political career is now likely done at this point, or at the very least, he will have to sit out of several election cycles for any attempt of a comeback.
“He resigned in disgrace,” explained Southern Californian pollster Ernie Rodriguez to the Globe on Thursday. “It is really hard to come back from something like that. Even if this case is dismissed, the fact that he had an affair under such dramatic circumstances means that voters will remember this for a long time.”
“This all crashed down on him pretty fast. A week ago he was likely going to be the next state Senator from his district and, who knows, could have had a shot at being Governor or Congressman by the end of the decade as a result. Now he is a disgraced politician with near zero support, no real political future, and now has to try and keep his family together through this mess. His wife is giving public support for him, but behind the scenes, who knows.”
An interim replacement on the SD County Board of Supervisors has yet to be announced.
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