Hearing to probe former San Diego mayor's spending: Bob Filner's trip to paris under the microscope
Last Updated: 91 days ago
SAN DIEGO - The City Council's Audit Committee is holding a hearing on whether the administration of former Mayor Bob Filner violated municipal credit card policies.
On Thursday, Team10 obtained a letter from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith sent to audit committee chair, Kevin Faulconer, that stated, “Since the suspension of the investigations, we have received additional information that should be pursued."
He did not specify what the information was.
“We cannot have one set of rules for the mayor’s office and another set of rules for the rest of the city. That will not work," said San Diego City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, now a candidate for mayor, who also heads up the city's audit committee.
On Monday, the committee will meet with Goldsmith and is expected to request that Eduardo Luna, the city's auditor head up an investigation into Filner's spending of city money on personal expenses via his publicly-issued credit card. This includes a trip to Paris, France in June.
While public accusations of sexual harassment by about 20 women dominated the narrative in Filner's last couple of months in office, investigators also looked into whether he misused his city-issued credit card and shook down developers.
In his memo, Goldsmith wrote that evidence was previously uncovered of "misuse of city funds concerning credit cards, travel policies and other matters." Investigations were suspended during a mediation process that led to Filner's resignation and pending the committee meeting, according to Goldsmith.
Interim Chief Operating Officer Walt Ekard said in another memo that proper procedure was followed when monthly credit card limits were raised before Filner took the Paris trip. The mayor's travel was funded by an Iranian dissident group, but Filner eventually had to pay the money back after Team 10 reported that the organization was not properly registered in the U.S. as a nonprofit.
The credit limit was raised so one member of Filner's office could pay for airfare by his San Diego police security detail, and was subsequently restored, according to Ekard. The police officers used their own cards to pay for lodging, he said.
The trip cost the city $21,579, Ekard said.
“We have to ensure the taxpayer dollars were protected, but as important, that all of the checks and balances in the city were followed," said Faulconer. "I'm not convinced that they were."
In August, Faulconer expanded the scope of the hearing after documents revealed Filner broke the city's credit card policy, charged hundreds of dollars in personal expenses, delayed repayments to the city and threatened parts of the city's credit standing due to late credit card payments.
During that time, Team10 obtained some of Filner's credit card statements through a public records request that showed more than $500 was spent during several different outings at the Westgate Hotel Downtown, where according to members of his former security detail, Filner would take different women.
Former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre said the next steps will include three parts of the city will come together to get to the bottom of this.
“Unlike a normal audit, what's happening here is the city attorney is working in conjunction with our city auditor to carry out an investigation into whether or not any of the financial controls have been violated,” said Aguirre.
It's not clear what additional information has been obtained to proceed forward with the investigation and Faulconer would not discuss details.
The hearing will take place at 9 a.m. at the city administration building at City Hall.
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