After a government staffer accused San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher of sexual assault, Fletcher declared his retirement. The Marine battle veteran’s meteoric rise to fame after leaving the Republican Party in 2012 ends abruptly with this news. Fletcher resigned from the board of directors only a few months after being re-elected to a second term with 65 percent of the vote.
When Fletcher, the public face of San Diego’s reaction to COVID-19, announced that he was withdrawing from the contest to replace Toni Atkins in the state Senate, he made headlines because of his decision to seek help for post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse. After accusations of sexual harassment and attack were made against him in a complaint filed by a government employee, he quit as head of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. Explicit texts allegedly sent by Fletcher were included in the lawsuit.
Citing the “immense and unbearable” pressure on his family in the wake of the allegations, Fletcher said he would resign from the county board of supervisors, effective May 15. The news has rocked San Diego, where Fletcher was seen as a promising leader with a bright future in politics. Fletcher’s progressive positions and telegenic presence had made him a clear favorite to succeed Toni Atkins in the state Senate.
The Democratic Party in San Diego, which has made great strides in the area in recent years, has been dealt a setback by the accusations against Fletcher. Todd Gloria, the Democratic mayor, may confront concerns about how he managed the aftermath of a recent real estate debacle, which could pave the way for new faces.
Fletcher’s name came up in discussions of possible candidates for mayor and Congress in San Diego. Some have, however, drawn parallels between his problems and those of other recently deposed politicians, most notably the former governors of New York, Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, and the former U.S. senator, John Edwards. Allegations of sexual abuse sank both of their once-promising careers.
The government employee who has accused Fletcher of assault claims in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday that the two of them started corresponding on social media in 2021. In May of 2022, she claims that she was in a meeting with Fletcher when he kissed her on the stairwell and then groped her in the neighboring conference room. On February 6th, after the employee made casual settlement attempts with Fletcher, she was terminated.
Fletcher issued a statement in which he acknowledged extramarital “consensual interactions” but disputed the government worker’s specific claims. Becca Taylor, chair of the Democratic Party in San Diego County, said that Fletcher’s resignation was the right move, and other elected officials agreed. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a prominent liberal Democrat in the state assembly, is Fletcher’s wife. She has expressed confidence that her husband’s reputation will be cleared, but she has also encouraged him to quit.