Heard on the Hill: Filner Fallout

Posted August 20, 2007 at 3:13pm

Rep. Bob Filner didn’t just lose his luggage on Sunday night, he allegedly lost his temper, too. The California Democrat is being charged with assault and battery following an incident at Dulles International Airport in which Filner allegedly pushed an airline worker and refused to leave an employees-only area, according to a statement given to HOH by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. [IMGCAP(1)]

According to the statement, at about 6 p.m. Sunday, while at the baggage-claim area for United Airlines, Filner “allegedly attempted to enter an area authorized for airline employees only, pushed aside the employee’s outstretched arm and refused to leave the area when asked by an airline employee.” Airport police arrived on the scene and interviewed Filner and other witnesses but let the Congressman leave. Later that evening, the airline employee whom Filner allegedly pushed appeared before a Loudoun County magistrate, who issued the summons charging Filner with assault and battery, according to the statement. Assault and battery is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. That charge could result in up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine under Virginia code.

A spokeswoman for the airline authority said the incident apparently stemmed from trouble with Filner’s luggage, and that the airline worker involved worked at the baggage-claim office. They would not release the worker’s name, but did offer this statement on the alleged incident: “United regrets that the customer experienced a delay in claiming his bag. The safety and security of our employees and our customers is our number one priority, and we are fully cooperating with the authorities in the investigation into this incident.”

Filner’s court date is Oct. 2, according to the statement from the MWAA.

Filner’s office issued a media advisory Monday night that stated: “Congressman Bob Filner is on his way to Iraq, visiting our troops, and will have a full statement when he returns. Suffice it to say now, that the story that has appeared in the press is factually incorrect — and the charges are ridiculous.”

— Emily Heil