San Diego County supervisor Nathan Fletcher (D.) announced his resignation this week after several women accused him of sexual assault. One of those women says Fletcher's wife, a powerful union leader, tried to intimidate her into not coming forward.
California Labor Federation chief Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher allegedly threatened to make Grecia Figueroa "look terrible" if Figueroa filed a complaint against Nathan Fletcher, Figueroa claims in a lawsuit. Figueroa this week accused Fletcher of assaulting her twice and making a number of other unwanted sexual advances since 2021. Fletcher announced Wednesday that he would resign in the coming weeks, a day after a second woman accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was a 19-year-old intern in his office.
The scandal could cause problems for Gonzalez Fletcher, who is fighting to defend AB 5, a controversial California law she helped craft while serving in the State Assembly. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this month cleared the way for challenges to the law, which would force businesses to treat independent contractors as hourly employees. Critics say the law puts financial strain on gig workers and independent operators. President Joe Biden has pushed for a national version of the bill, which Gonzalez Fletcher crafted in conjunction with Julie Su, the president's pick to lead the Department of Labor.
Figueroa says Fletcher began harassing her in 2021 while she was an employee of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. She alleges he began making unwanted sexual advances at her agency's public meetings, over which he presided as the agency board chairman. She also says that Fletcher twice assaulted her in agency offices and that she was abruptly fired in February, on the day Fletcher announced his State Senate campaign.
Gonzalez Fletcher, who is not named as a defendant, allegedly said last week that she would join her husband in suing Figueroa for extortion if Figueroa proceeded with a complaint, according to the lawsuit. She and her husband allegedly also stated they would make Figueroa "look terrible, and it's going to follow her for the rest of her life."
Days before Figueroa's complaint was made public, Fletcher abruptly announced he was pulling out of the State Senate race and checking into out-of-state rehab for alcohol abuse, citing PTSD from his time in the military.
Fletcher was seen as a shoo-in for the seat, currently held by the California Senate's Democratic leader, as well as a likely contender to succeed Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.). Fletcher and Newsom are friends and have vacationed together, a fact mentioned in Figueroa's lawsuit.
Fletcher says he and Figueroa were engaged in a consensual affair and denies all allegations of sexual assault. Gonzalez Fletcher has stood by her husband, echoing his claims and accusing his accusers of making "false accusations."
It's a far cry from her past statements on sexual assault. Gonzalez Fletcher, who resigned from the State Assembly last year to helm one of the state's most powerful unions, has said that "any unwanted sexual contact is sexual assault" and that "very few women make up allegations of sexual assault."
Representatives for Fletcher and Gonzalez Fletcher did not respond to requests for comment.