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Lawmaker Is Accused Of Assault At Dulles

By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) has been charged with misdemeanor assault and battery for allegedly pushing an airline employee at Dulles International Airport on Sunday during a dispute over baggage, authorities said.

Filner, who represents the San Diego area, "attempted to enter an area authorized for airline employees only" while in the United Airlines baggage claim office and "pushed aside the employee's outstretched arm and refused to leave the area when asked by an airline employee," according to a Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police statement.

Filner had exited the office and was waiting near the baggage carousel when police arrived about 6 p.m. He was released after he and witnesses were interviewed, airport police said.

The female airline employee, whom police did not identify, appeared before a Loudoun County magistrate that evening, and Filner was charged with assault and battery. If convicted, Filner faces up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine under Virginia law.

Police said the employee did not require medical attention.

Filner disputed the account in a brief statement issued by his office. "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," the statement says.

United Airlines also released a statement, saying: "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, 64, was first elected to the House in 1992 and is the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. He has advocated for veterans' benefits for Filipinos who fought with U.S. forces in World War II. He also has introduced the Military Environmental Responsibility Act, which would require all U.S. defense-related agencies to fully comply with federal and state environmental laws.

His district includes parts of San Diego and all of the California-Mexico border.

Filner is scheduled to appear in Loudoun County General District Court on Oct. 2.

Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.

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