As the 16th woman came forward accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment, a new revelation about the beleaguered mayor has also come forth: According to San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Filner misused city funds.
Most of the media coverage on this story has focused on the salacious details, like the fact that he has been banned from the local Hooters restaurant, or the sexual harassment accusations, the latest coming from Peggy Shannon, a 67-year-old great-grandmother worker at the Senior Citizens Help Desk in city hall; but a separate, very interesting set of events is coming to light.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, as far as the sexual harassment is concerned. Several of the women who received his unwanted attention are members of the National Women’s Veterans Association of America, and that he met as they were speaking as victim’s of sexual assault while in the armed forces.
In addition, on the face of Filner refusing to resign, a grassroots recall campaign has been launched against him. However, there may be a faster way to oust him, according to the city attorney.
It appears that the mayor’s lack of restraint in his interactions with women is not his only flaw. He has been under investigation by the FBI for taking money from a developer. This issue concerns a deal for construction permits in exchange for monetary donations, although Filner reportedly has returned the checks. While it appears that situation may have been diffused, Goldsmith says Filner also misused city funds for personal expenses. “At this point, we’re going to give him an out. It’s his choice. If he wants to resign, he’s going to have some opportunity. I can’t go into everything,” said the city attorney.
The San Diego City Council did ask the city attorney’s office to look for a faster, more efficient way to dismiss Mayor Filner under the city charter, and Filner has repeatedly misused a city credit card assigned to him. This might be his ultimate undoing.
The most egregious misuse of city funds by Mayor Bob Filner was actually in San Diego. Repeated room rentals at the Westwood Hotel were charged to the city issued credit card, where, according to CNN, two patrons had seen him “with different women every time.” NBC7 San Diego reports that an individual in Filner’s security detail has said that the mayor would routinely meet a woman at the hotel, although he did not provide more specifics. Charges for meals at Indigo Café were also in the credit card statements. The mayor’s credit card was cancelled on July 31 because his office would not pay the bills.
Mayor Filner also was under scrutiny earlier this year over a trip to Paris in June that was supposed to be paid for by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities; but was charged to the card, and cost $31,363, and appeared to exceed many times over the amount he is allowed to receive as a gift from any organization that is not a non-profit. Of this, City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said “As Chairman of the City’s Audit Committee, I’ve continued to ask questions about Mayor Filner’s junket because the story doesn’t add up.”
Both US senators from California, Diane Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi have asked Filner to step down from his position.The city council has scheduled a vote for August 28 on whether to force Mayor Bob Filner from office for misuse of city funds. Legal action is expected to be necessary to oust Filner if the council decides to pursue that option.
By Milton Ruiz