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Reading my colleague Evan McLaughlin‘s story Friday on Council President Scott Peters’ proclamation that council members won’t be punished in the SEC investigation, I looked through the voiceofsandiego.org archives and found myself retracing this interesting story for the last year or so.

I then created this rundown of our coverage, much of which has been exclusive, of the federal securities investigation into City Hall. Enjoy the reading (and click on the date to read the full story):

  • Feb. 13, 2006: Sources tell us that the SEC has given targets of its investigation into the city of San Diego their last chance to avoid enforcement actions by the agency, a sign that the SEC’s two-year-long case probing City Hall’s financial dealings had advanced.
  • June 22, 2006: Attorney invoices show that the personal attorney for at least once council member, Toni Atkins, had settlement discussions with the SEC. It had long been known that City Attorney Mike Aguirre was engaged in settlement talks on behalf of the city of San Diego as an entity. But the invoices were the first documents to show that the attorney for an individual council member had at least been engaged in settlement discussions with the SEC, suggesting that the commission had contemplated bringing an enforcement action against an elected official.
  • Aug. 9, 2006: The Kroll report opines that eight former top staffers committed securities fraud in acted with “wrongful intent” in failing to disclose details of the city’s financial troubles. The consultants find that council members acted “negligently.”
  • Oct. 31, 2006: We write that the possibility remains that the SEC could bring punishment against individuals despite SEC’s pending settlement with the city as an entity. We also run down the details of council members’ attorney bills, which include meetings and presentations with the SEC.
  • Nov. 15, 2006: The city and the SEC come to a settlement for the city as an entity, finding that the city committed securities fraud by misleading investors about its looming pension and retiree health care deficits. The federal agency notes that an investigation into individuals continues. The City Council had approved the settlement in closed session weeks earlier.
  • Feb. 24, 2007: Invoices indicate that council members’ personal attorneys were busy following the release of the Kroll report, work that included a “white paper” submission to the SEC.
  • April 6, 2007: Council President Scott Peters tells us he believes the SEC investigation will not touch elected officials. If Peters is correct, the cloud of scrutiny over the council president and four other council members since the SEC opened its probe into the city three years ago will have dissolved.
ANDREW DONOHUE

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