It may seem a bit late, but ex-San Diego mayor Bob Filner, who quit office following revelations of sexual harassment last summer, has just received a warning from California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. In a letter dated July 23, commission senior counsel Neal Bucknell calls out Filner for accepting what it calls an “unlawful gift” of travel from an Iranian-American group that provided an all-expenses-paid trip to Europe beginning on June 21 of last year.
“As Mayor of the City of San Diego, you accepted a gift from the Organization of Iranian-American Communities in the approximate amount of $9,839 in the form of a paid trip to Paris, France,” Bucknell notes. “In a letter to the FPPC dated January 20, 2014, you acknowledged that this was an over-the-limit gift, claiming that you ‘immediately wrote a personal check to [the Organization of Iranian-American Communities] for the total cost of the trip...’ However, it appears from your bank records that you did not make your payment until August 2013.” If the ex-mayor ever finds himself again in a position to be offered a similar deal, Bucknell warns he should be mindful that “the information in this case will be retained and may be used against you should an enforcement action become necessary due to newly discovered information and/or failure to comply with the Act in the future. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act in the future may result in monetary penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.”
As first reported here back in November 2007, Filner, then a congressman, had long been accepting Parisian freebies from backers of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization, or MEK for short. That June, Filner and GOP congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado co-authored an op-ed piece in the editorial pages of the conservative Washington Times demanding that the Bush Administration stop labeling the group as a terrorist organization. Though Filner never returned calls seeking an explanation of his fervid MEK support, wealthy Iranian expatriates were often fingered as cash underwriters of the effort, which included the lobbying services of Republican ex-House majority leader Dick Armey. The Obama administration’s then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton finally took the group off the government’s terrorist list in September 2012.