City Attorney Mike Aguirre told one of Kroll’s lawyers today that the audit committee should have to respond to all of the questions elected officials ask them, despite assurances from Mayor Jerry Sanders and Council President Scott Peters that the audit committee will only discuss the report.

Aguirre criticized the mayor and council president for agreeing to the conditions that Benito Romano, the audit committee’s attorney, set forth in a letter Monday. Romano said that the audit committee will appear before the council next Tuesday at 8 a.m. and will “confine its remarks to the content of the Report, and will not respond to any other questions at that time.”

The city attorney and Councilwoman Donna Frye said that the signatures of Sanders and Peters on the letter should not mean that the scope of questions that public officials ask is limited.

Further, Aguirre said it was inappropriate for Peters to “negotiate” with Kroll when he is under investigation. Aguirre and Frye have criticized the firm for not providing detailed billing and for meeting with the Union-Tribune‘s editorial board. The two officials want to be able to grill the Kroll consultants, who have billed the city $20.3 million for the report, about these issues.

The city attorney also asked audit committee to bring with it timecards, all the e-mails relating to this investigation and periodic reports relating to the investigation. He has publicly stated that he is actively investigating Kroll for allegedly violating the state’s false claims law.

As council president, Peters was elected by his colleagues to schedule business before the City Council and to chair its meetings. Frye said this instance was different.

“It’s factual that he was elected to do the docketing, but I don’t believe it was assigned to the council president the right to say what questions we will not ask,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Peters said Tuesday’s meeting was supposed to be about the report – which auditors will review before blessing the city’s financial statements – not Kroll’s billing practices.

“It’s not for going line-by-line over the billing records. That’s not purpose of this special meeting,” spokeswoman Pam Hardy said.

Aguirre and Frye also said they were concerned that the audit committee would never show up to City Hall again after it released the report. Tuesday was their only shot at asking those questions, they said.

Hardy said it was unclear if Kroll would return.

“As we’ve learned time and time again through course of this process, we have no control over these individuals.”

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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