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San Diego officials focus on Filner's expenses in bid to oust mayor

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FILE: August 18, 2013: A demonstrator holds up a sign to protest San Diego Mayor Bob Filner refusing to resign over sexual harassment accusations, during a rally and march in downtown San Diego, Calif.REUTERS

San Diego officials are now considering an obscure provision in the city charter regarding the misuse of public funds to try to remove Mayor Bob Filner, accused of sexually harassing more than a dozen women.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith plans to pose the idea of ousting the Democratic mayor in connection with using city money for personal expenses and a trip this year to Paris, according to The Los Angeles Times. Previously, Filner's critics figured the only way to remove him from office would be to vote him out in a recall election, or pressure him to resign. 

Goldsmith, though, recently sent a part of the provision to the City Council that reads: “Every city officer who willfully approves or allows an unauthorized payment from the city treasury is subject to removal from office."

The nine-member council, which has unanimously asked Goldsmith to find a way to remove Filner, will consider the move at its Aug. 28 meeting.

Though the charter does not include a provision for impeachment, Goldsmith said the relevant provision could, in effect, accomplish the same thing.

Meanwhile, residents began a petition drive Sunday to oust the 70-year-old Filner, who has received behavior therapy over the matter but refuses to resign.

Filner is being accused of making inappropriate statements or sexual advances toward women. He is set to return to work this week after undergoing the therapy.

"He is a sexual predator. He has abused the power of his office," said Rachel Laing, spokeswoman for the recall campaign. "He can't possibly lead or possibly reclaim his ability to lead."

Recall organizers say they have raised more than $100,000 so far and more than 1,100 people have signed up to volunteer. They must collect 101,597 signatures of registered San Diego voters by Sept. 26. If the petition has fewer than that, the recall campaign will have 30 more days to circulate a supplemental petition to gather additional valid signatures.

If enough signatures are validated by the city clerk, the petition will be presented to the City Council, which must schedule an election within 60 to 90 days.

Regarding the alleged misuse of public money, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association has cited news reports stating that Filner’s credit card receipts show nearly $1,000 spent on such personal items as pizzas, juicers and expensive lunches.

Filner took the trip to Paris in June to attend a rally of pro-democracy Iranians and was accompanied by two San Diego police officers, whose airfare and other expenses totaled $21,244.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.