Dem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me

Dem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me
© Greg Nash

Rep. Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteOvernight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization Skyrocketing insulin prices provoke new outrage Overnight Health Care: NJ gets its own health insurance mandate | Pushback over Trump pick for family planning program | GOP senator pushes FDA on implementing 'right to try' | Opioid prescriptions fall for fifth year MORE (D-Colo.) on Monday said a former congressman tried to forcibly kiss her while they were both serving in the House.

DeGette alleged during an interview on MSNBC's “Meet the Press Daily” that former Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) tried to force himself on her in an elevator.

“Some years ago, I was in an elevator and then-Congressman Bob Filner tried to pin me to the door of the elevator and kiss me. And I pushed him away,” DeGette said.

“I mean, I was his colleague. He couldn’t take action against me. And believe you me, I never got in an elevator with him again,” she added.

Filner served in the House from 1993 until 2012, when he left to become the mayor of San Diego.


Filner eventually resigned as mayor less than a year into the job amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Nearly 20 women accused Filner of groping, forcible kisses and inappropriate touching.

DeGette said that Filner's attempt to kiss her wasn't the only time she experienced sexual harassment while serving in Congress. She also said that when she was a “young congresswoman,” a French diplomat tried to put his hand up her dress at a diplomatic dinner.

“You can imagine the shock when you’re sitting at a dinner like that,” DeGette said.

DeGette joins a series of female lawmakers who have revealed their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault while working on Capitol Hill.

But DeGette is notably the first female lawmaker to publicly name a harasser who serves or has served in Congress.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), for example, told The Associated Press of two different male colleagues in Congress who harassed her.

Sánchez said that one lawmaker, who no longer serves in Congress, repeatedly ogled her and touched her inappropriately on the House floor. The other lawmaker, who Sánchez said is still her colleague, tried to proposition her.

She told The Associated Press that, “I just don’t think it would be helpful” to name the harasser who still serves in Congress.

Reps. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) have both said that they experienced sexual misconduct while they worked as congressional aides decades ago.

Speier said that a chief of staff forcibly kissed her, while Kuster has said that a “distinguished guest of the United States Congress” put his hand up her skirt while at a dinner with her then-boss.

Speier and Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia Trump: ‘Dems have a death wish’ Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation last week to require sexual harassment awareness training for members and staff, as well as overhaul the system available to staff to report harassment complaints.

DeGette said she didn’t know the identities of colleagues accused of sexual harassment. 

Speier testified before the House Administration Committee last week that at least two current lawmakers have been accused. She declined to identify them, citing one victim bound by a nondisclosure agreement and another who does not wish to go public. 

“When these advances happen, they’re brushed under the rug,” DeGette said. “But if there are people who are sexual predators in Congress right now, we need to know who they are.”

The Senate passed a resolution earlier this month to require the training for senators and staff, which before had only been optional.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress Interior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE (R-Wis.) said last week that the House will adopt a similar policy. Lawmakers hope to act with legislation as soon as after the Thanksgiving holiday.

- This story was updated at 1:37 p.m.