Opposing U.S. Foreign Interventions
Support from Labor Unions
Throughout the course of his congressional career, Filner received large sums of campaign cash from organized labor. Among his major donors were the AFSCME, the Air Line Pilots Association, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America), the American Federation of Teachers, the Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union, the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union, the Teamsters Union, the United Auto Workers, and the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.
Filner’s Volatile Temper
* During his years in Congress, Rep. Bob Filner earned a reputation for having a volatile temper. On February 22, 2003, he went to an El Centro, California immigration detention facility and to see one particular detainee. The Washington Post gives this account of what transpired:
Ahmad Imran, a Pakistani cardiothoracic surgeon and Shiite Muslim, entered the U.S. legally in August 2000 to seek safety from Sunni Muslim extremists in Pakistan who were targeting Shiite physicians for assassination. His visa expired in April 2001, and he was it wouldn’t be extended. He stayed anyway. U.S. Border Patrol detained him in April 2002 and filed for his deportation to Pakistan. While Imran sought asylum or, alternatively, voluntary departure to Canada to live with his Canadian wife, Heather McRae, he remained confined in an El Centro, Calif., immigration detention facility.
El Centro is in Filner’s district, and Filner decided to intervene on Imran’s behalf. One night in February 2003, accompanied by McRae and two reporters, Filner appeared at the facility’s entrance and demanded to speak with Imran. Juan Ramirez, an Immigration and Naturalization Services officer at the door, told him that only McRae could enter. Filner grew indignant and asked the officer: “When was the last time you read the Constitution?” The officer called his supervisor, who instructed to him to bar Filner from admission and call the police if Filner became difficult. After ten minutes of further argument, during which Filner challenged accompanying INS officers Ruben Garcia and Jorge Bribiesca with – “Are you going to stop me, big man… Are you going to shoot me? Are you going to arrest me?” – Filner forced his way in.
Seven INS and security officers confronted Filner inside and ordered him to leave. He only grew more defiant and told them that he wanted to ” see my constituent and I am not moving from here until I do so.” As officers converged, he tried to push his way through and around them, but was eventually subdued. Local police arrived, but Filner had already ceased resisting and they declined to file charges. Filner did, however, get his wish-senior officers later contacted Filner that evening and granted him permission to speak with the detainee. Filner returned and spoke with Imran, then approached Ramirez and apologized for his earlier conduct.
* On August 19, 2007, Filner had an altercation with a United Airlines employee in Washington’s Dulles Airport. According to witnesses, the congressman, angry at the length of time he had been waiting to receive his checked baggage, pushed the employee and tried to gain access to an area reserved exclusively for authorized personnel; he then ignored orders that he leave the area. The employee subsequently pressed charges against Filner.
On November 26, 2007 Filner entered an Alford plea, meaning that while he maintained his innocence, he acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence with which a prosecutor could likely convince a judge or jury of his guilt. In exchange for Filner’s plea, prosecutors reduced the misdemeanor “assault and battery” charge to a “trespassing” charge. Filner was fined $100 and was ordered to write the employee a letter of apology.