Rarely does former City Attorney Casey Gwinn speak publicly anymore. Even more rare: getting a glimpse into what he was thinking when the Justice Department and the SEC launched dual investigations into City Hall finances and politics in 2004.

An e-mail contained in a report released yesterday by City Attorney Mike Aguirre – which, incidentally, got little attention in the Union-Tribune, a local newspaper – spells out his thoughts.

The e-mail, sent Feb. 16, 2004, to Vinson & Elkins partner Paul Maco, reads:


As you know, I spoke Friday night with the Assistant United States Attorney Jason Forge. His comments were stunning and deeply troubling. The United States Attorney has no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing but has created a criminal investigation in order to avoid being “one upped” by the SEC. The internal politics of federal agencies may impact the financial markets and has profoundly impacted public opinion and still, there is no evidence of any criminal or even civil liability.

I am very concerned about Councilmembers and City staffers. We called many of the key players yesterday. They all want to know if they should be getting their own lawyers. I cannot authorize that nor am I recommending it. Many are scared and stunned by the abuse of power by the United States Attorney and the FBI. I still cannot see any legal wrongdoing in any of this. Yet, many are being destroyed in the media with no evidence. All we continue to see are allegations motivated for political reasons. I continue to believe that attorney Pat Shea is driving most of this behind the scenes. He is married to Diann Shippione and he is very close to City Attorney candidate Mike Aguirre. A convergence of forces is mushrooming this relatively light breeze matter into a whirlwind.

The politics of the Mayor’s race and the City Attorney’s race are, in many ways overwhelming the real issues. The Mayor is getting knocked all over the place even though he appears to have done nothing wrong from a legal stand point. The public does not know who did what or even what the issues are, they just know “bad things” happened.

I look forward to having you here on Tuesday and developing a strategy for advising many concerned staff members and elected officials. We also need to decide what we can and cannot say publicly to explain to the public what the issues even are. No one knows what the issues are but when they hear FBI and US Attorney they assume serious criminal misconduct.

The FBI is now publicly commenting on their investigation in the newspaper! I am stunned by that. The Assistant US Attorney is telling me they have no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing and the US Attorney and FBI are leaking information which is destroying the reputations and careers of staff members and elected officials with no evidence whatsoever. It is the same strategy they have used in the indictments of the three Councilmembers. I repeat…I more and more see both situations as abuses of power based on the arrogance of the United States Attorney and the FBI with no regard for how there actions are going to impact the outcome of city-wide elections.

I look forward to seeing you Tuesday morning.



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