San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio held a press conference Thursday to criticize his opponent in the mayor's race, Rep. Bob Filner, for trips he took in Congress that were paid for by special interests.
DeMaio pointed to 14 trips since 2000 totaling $38,163, paid for by organizations like the Center for International Policy, the Center for Latin American Studies at UC Berkeley, the National Education Association, the Colorado Iranian-American Committee, the Air Force Sergeants Association, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.
These types of fact-finding trips are common among Congress members, but DeMaio said Filner should pay his own way so taxpayers can be sure his efforts aren’t compromised by the special interests that paid for his travels.
Congressman Filner released a statement Friday saying most of the trips were related to his duties as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and some were related to his "life-long work on human rights."
"So, I plead guilty to doing my job as a Congressman, informing myself about world issues, building relationships with world leaders and fighting for human rights. All of which strengthens my ability to be mayor," Filner said in the statement.
Filner’s trips also included a visit to Chicago to appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." DeMaio opted not to directly answer whether Oprah was a special interest.
DeMaio has self-imposed a gift ban since taking office, and said other elected officials should do the same.
Filner collects endorsements
Strengthening his base of support, Filner this week announced a series of endorsements that complement others he’d already obtained.
Thanks to the support of Scott Barnett, he now has endorsements from all five board members of the San Diego Unified School District.
And with the announcement of the support of the San Diego Police Officers Association, Filner is one step closer to a complete set of endorsements from the city’s six labor unions. He previously received endorsements from the unions representing the city’s lifeguards, firefighters, and white-collar workers.