REGION — A San Diego County government contract to protect Democratic Supervisor Nathan Fletcher shows a $1.9 million bill from a private security contractor with a history of union busting, according to county records.
After reportedly receiving death threats for his policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fletcher, who recently resigned from the Board of Supervisors following a lawsuit alleging sexual assault and harassment, was provided protection services from Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, Inc.
Pinkerton’s contract to protect Fletcher started on Sept. 27, 2021, with monthly service bills ranging from $10,000 upward of more than $180,000. In December 2022, Pinkerton billed $187,728.24, the highest amount for Fletcher’s monthly services in the company’s 18-month agreement.
The last contract extension for Pinkerton’s services is through April 10 “to cover the disentanglement process,” with a maximum contract amount of $2.6 million. It remains unclear if Fletcher is continuing to receive security services while in an out-of-state treatment facility.
Questions were submitted to the county regarding the details of the Pinkerton contract, but they were unable to respond prior to publication. A county spokesperson said they will provide a response later this week.
Since his political conversion from a Republican about eight years ago, Fletcher has positioned himself as a pro-labor Democrat, approving and lobbying for project labor agreements and union-only work on public projects. Fletcher’s wife, former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a staunch labor advocate, is the chief officer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
But Pinkerton, one of the country’s oldest private security and detective agencies, has a well-documented history of working for employers to quell unionization efforts and monitor employees, along with security, legal and other protection services.
According to NPR, Pinkerton was found to have used spies to track Amazon warehouse workers attempting to unionize in 2020. The same year, the private security company was nearly run out of Denver after a Pinkerton subcontractor shot and killed a counter-protestor at the “Patriot Muster” rally, according to the Westword.
Starbucks, the subject of a federal investigation into union busting, is alleged to have hired a former CIA officer and Pinkerton employee to monitor unionizing employees, according to media reports.
Fletcher, who recently disclosed he was entering an inpatient facility for treatment related to alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder from his combat service as a U.S. Marine, resigned from his office last Wednesday, effective 5 p.m. on May 15, according to Fletcher’s office, and will spend his remaining time in office on medical leave.
Fletcher’s resignation came shortly after Grecia Figueroa, 34, a former San Diego Metropolitan Transit System employee, filed a lawsuit alleging sexual assault and harassment against the elected official.
Figueroa claims Fletcher, then chairman of the MTS board of directors, sexually assaulted her twice last year. She also alleges sexual harassment, sexual battery and whistleblower retaliation. Fletcher, who resigned from the MTS board last Tuesday, has publicly denied the allegations but admitted to “consensual interactions” with Figueroa and violating the trust of his family and wife.
San Diego City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, a named defendant in a separate sexual harassment lawsuit alongside former San Diego County Democratic Party chairman Will Rodriguez Kennedy, has replaced Fletcher as interim MTS chairman. Whitburn is accused of not intervening when Rodriguez-Kennedy allegedly raped Oscar Rendon on Aug. 18, 2021.
MTS also came under fire after the agency’s executive management team issued a statement claiming transit officials only became aware of Figueroa’s lawsuit on March 28. However, La Prensa reported this week that Zack Schumacher, Figueroa’s attorney, sent MTS a notice of Figueroa’s allegations of “unlawful employment practices” on Feb. 17, nearly six weeks before Fletcher announced he was entering rehab.
Regarding Pinkerton bodyguards, Figueroa’s lawsuit also claims a member of Fletcher’s Pinkerton security team approached her in October, asking if she was employed by MTS, saying he believed that he had seen her before at the county Administration Building. In the complaint, Figueroa called the interaction “bizarre” because the bodyguards “rarely, if ever,” spoke to anyone else but Fletcher.
“The interaction suggested to Ms. Figueroa that Fletcher’s bodyguards — in addition to others — might be aware of everything Fletcher had been doing with her,” the lawsuit reads.
Under heavy fire
A number of elected officials, nonprofit groups and veterans across San Diego County have since come forward, calling for Fletcher to resign immediately due to his public statements regarding the reasons for entering rehab. Fletcher claimed to be seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder from combat and childhood trauma.
On Monday, Jason Gilbert, national chairman for the non-partisan Disabled Veterans PAC, expressed concerns over Fletcher’s claims of PTSD in relation to his admitted misconduct and pending allegations.
“When I heard County Supervisor Fletcher had dropped the term PTSD in conjunction with his sexual assault allegation, my jaw dropped, and my eyeballs popped,” Gilbert, a Marine veteran, said. “I was concerned the public may wrongly correlate the two correlating our many veterans suffering from PTSD as sexual predator time bombs.”
Kate Monroe, a Marine Corps veteran and sexual assault survivor, also called for Fletcher’s immediate resignation, accusing Fletcher of diagnosing himself with PTSD to protect his career.
“Your fellow veterans are sending you a message, and that is for five minutes; go look in the mirror, realize it’s over and resign,” Monroe said after being “inundated” with calls from “concerned” veterans, according to ABC 10.
Supervisor Jim Desmond also delivered sharp criticism of Fletcher’s statements about PTSD in relation to his admitted “consensual” acts of infidelity and sexual harassment allegations within Figueroa’s lawsuit.
“It’s clear to me that this was a ruse to cover up for infidelity and the other alleged crimes,” Desmond said in a video posted Sunday.
Recently, some have suggested that Fletcher’s decision to delay his resignation was related to the upcoming Board of Supervisors vote on the hiring of a chief administrative officer.
La Prensa reported on April 3 that the leading candidate for the role is Cindy Chavez, who currently sits on the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, a former San Jose city councilwoman and former executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council.
Fletcher said last week his resignation will take effect on May 15, leading residents to believe he will remain in office to cast the deciding vote on Chavez’s hiring. A county source said the vote will likely be in May.
La Prensa reported Chavez has the backing of Supervisor Nora Vargas and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.