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California Congressman in DC Airport Bag Brawl

WASHINGTON — Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., has been summoned to court on assault and battery charges after an incident at Dulles Airport on Sunday night where he allegedly pushed a United Airlines bag claim employee.

Filner allegedly attempted to enter an employees-only area, pushed aside an employee’s arm and wouldn’t leave when asked, according to a statement from Courtney Prebich, assistant media relations manager for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

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 said without elaborating.

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The encounter happened after Filner “experienced a delay in claiming his bag,” according to a United Airlines statement. United said it regretted that delay and was cooperating in the investigation.

When airport police arrived Filner was waiting in the bag carousel area, Prebich said. Police interviewed him and witnesses and let him go. The incident occurred around 6 p.m.

The employee, whom United declined to identify, decided to press charges and appeared before a Loudoun County, Va., magistrate later that evening.

Filner was summoned to appear in Loudoun County General District Court on Oct. 2. Assault and battery is a misdemeanor charge.

Filner, an eight-term incumbent who chairs the Veterans Affairs Committee, has displayed flashes of temper in the past.

About a year ago, he hurled obscenities at two Veterans Affairs officials after a briefing about the burglary of a laptop with military personnel information. The VA officials termed the briefing a “publicity stunt,” which angered Filner.

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