(Updated 8/18/2013: As reported in the LA Times, Filner could get removed from office for using the City’s credit card for personal expenses under the never been used before section 108 of the San Diego City Charter. It states, “every city officer who willfully approves or allows an unauthorized payment from the city treasury is subject to removal from office.” Yet, there is no set procedure for removal. The City Council and a judge would likely be required to remove Filner. The misuse of public funds is a felony. Why not let the San Diego District Attorney’s Office or the Attorney General’s Office (if DA Dumanis is recused) arrest and prosecute Filner for the alleged misuse of public funds, just like the DA did in 1986 to Filner’s predecessor (I kid you not) former Councilman Uvaldo Martinez who resigned pursuant to a plea bargain over his misuse of $1800 in city funds. Seriously, I’m not making this up. My bet, Bob will resign, too, when jail is the alternative. Besides, it’s cheaper than a 30 million dollar voter recall or enduring the civil process of testing out a 1931 section of the City Charter.)
Mayor Bob Filner is now being scrutinized for alleged “improper” expenses on his January to May 2013 Mayor’s (taxpayer) credit card statements including frequent hotel charges and $3000 paid to a reputation management firm.
Misuse of public funds?
If Filner misused public funds, game over. Filner faces up to 4 years in prison and can be barred from holding public office.
Having handled many sexual harassment cases and prosecuted many domestic violence cases, I am not surprised to learn of possible financial abuse allegations. Financial abuse commonly occurs by perpetrators of sexual abuse and harassment. When misused, money, just like sex, is just another way perpetrators control others and abuse their power.
Follow the money.
It may just reveal the misuse of public funds.
As stated by the California Attorney General,
“Public funds may not be used for personal purposes.
The starting point for any analysis concerning the misuse of public funds begins with the principle that public funds must be expended for an authorized public purpose. An expenditure is made for a public purpose when its purpose is to benefit the public interest rather than private individuals or private purposes.
Once a public purpose is established, the expenditure must still be authorized. A public official possesses only those powers that are conferred by law, either expressly or impliedly.
The California Constitution and a variety of state statutes make it clear that public funds may not be expended for purposes that are primarily personal. Such expenditures are neither for a public purpose nor are they authorized.
The prohibition against using public funds for personal purposes does not mean that no personal benefit may result from an expenditure of public funds.
For example, the payment of a public employee’s salary confers a personal benefit on the employee, but it is an appropriate expenditure of public funds because it is procuring the services of the employee for public purposes.
The misuse of public funds occurs when the personal benefit conferred by a public expenditure is not merely incidental. The term “public funds” is not limited to money, but includes anything of value belonging to a public agency such as equipment, supplies, compensated staff time, and use of telephones, computers, and fax machines and other equipment and resources.
Examples of Misuse of Public Funds
1.In People v. Dillon, a city commissioner used official government discounts to purchase items for himself and others. This was a misuse of public funds, even though those receiving the discount paid for the items with personal funds.
2.In People v. Sperl, a county marshal furnished a deputy marshal and a county vehicle to transport a political candidate, his staff and family.
3.In People v. Battin, a county supervisor used his county compensated staff to work on his political campaign for Lieutenant Governor.
4.In People v. Harby, a city official used a city car, entrusted to him for use in connection with official business, to take a pleasure trip from Los Angeles to Great Falls, Montana and back.
Violations of the laws prohibiting misuse of public funds may subject the violator to criminal and civil sanctions.
These penalties may include imprisonment for up to four years and a bar from holding office.” (See California Attorney General’s website, Misuse of Public Funds)
If Filner’s alleged improper credit card expenses were for personal use, he may face felony charges and, if found guilty, it will likely be the end of Filner’s political career.
Simply my opinion, what say you?
Read Huffington Post story on Filner’s questionable expenses.
Could Filner get arrested for assault & battery? Read my post Filner arrest or deal?.
Legal Analyst Michele Hagan on Los Angeles KVI talk station.
Update: 8/21/2013 Filner “mediation” with City Attorney and Gloria Allred continues. Settlement likely Filner wants a deal and Allred wants his resignation. The San Diego taxpayer is left with the bill for costly sex harass claims. Deal maker Filner gets $100K investigation dropped and he walks with his pension. Meanwhile, daily, thousands of San Diegans continue to sign Filner recall petition. How about a new law? If you commit a crime in office, you pay for it. Simply my opinion.
Update: 8/17/2013 16 women have now come forward claiming mistreatment by Mayor Filner. As alleged by victims, Filner’s mistreatment includes forcibly kissing, putting his tongue down a throat, grabbing, and placing an arm hold around a neck. Assault & battery, anyone?
Mayor Bob Filner has been locked out of the San Diego Mayor’s Office. The locks have been changed and he faces sexual harassment allegations by 13 women.
What next? A restraining order? Will Mayor Filner be arrested for assault and battery? false imprisonment? witness intimidation? Will Filner be offered a “deal” to resign? News at 11.
I kid you not.
As one who has handled sexual harassment cases and served as a San Diego prosecutor, criminal prosecution can be a real possibility for Mayor Filner.
Just like any other defendant, if he touched or grabbed any one of the “Filner 13”, the 13 alleged victims who have come forward alleging sexual harassment by San Diego’s Mayor, or, if he held any one of them against their will or threatened any of them, he could be arrested and criminally prosecuted, in addition to potentially facing numerous civil lawsuits for sexual harassment.
Certainly, criminal prosecution, if warranted, may be cheaper for the San Diego taxpayer than an expensive and difficult voter recall. And, maybe, upon arrest, he will finally choose to resign. Don’t hold your breath. If Filner is a sexual harasser, his behavior is all about power and control which means he will resign on his terms in spite of numerous notable calls for his resignation.
So, why is Filner not resigning? My guess, power and control. He is holding the mayor’s office hostage until his terms are met. Likely, Filner may want the San Diego taxpayer to help him with his legal costs defending the harassment suits, a guaranteed pension, termination of the investigation into the alleged improper $100,000 payment and whatever else he can negotiate. Don’t forget Filner has spent a lifetime making deals and living on the public doll as a professional politician. Why not have the taxpayer continue to pay his bills, he may think. After all, his apparent defense is to blame his alleged misconduct on the City of San Diego (the taxpayer) for not providing him with sexual harassment training to “justify” his alleged misconduct and explain why the San Diego taxpayer should foot the bill for the lawsuits.
Filner is entitled to due process and his day in court or courts. Let him explain his “problem” with women and prove the Filner 13 are not credible. I say no deals to Filner. Let the jury assess his accountability. If Filner feels wronged, let him sue the San Diego taxpayer and convince a San Diego jury that he has been wronged, like any other plaintiff. It will likely be cheaper and less risky than facing Gloria Allred who is known for getting multi-million dollar outcomes.
Simply my opinion, what say you?
Legal Analyst Michele Hagan on KFI Los Angeles Talk Radio.
Could Filner go to jail for personal use of taxpayer’s credit card (misuse of public funds)? Read my post.