Council President Scott Peters is claiming City Attorney Mike Aguirre is investigating his office and others at City Hall as retaliation for not supporting Aguirre’s budget requests and for other political decisions.

Peters said Aguirre has been requesting documents relating to the council president’s dealings for “several months” and that the practice has illustrated another disagreement between the two rivals about the proper role of the City Attorney’s Office.

In a June 20 memo, Peters told Aguirre he thought the documents requests were inappropriate because they were made in an adversarial tone. The City Attorney’s Office is the legal adviser for city officials, not its investigator, Peters argued.

“I object to your continued threats and purported investigations of the very city departments that you are required by charter to represent, including the City Council,” Peters stated.

Peters also argued it was unethical for lawyers in the city attorney’s criminal division to be making the requests, invoking a recent court ruling in which the City Attorney’s Office was kicked off prosecuting an alleged lobbying violation because Aguirre failed to set up ethical barriers between the criminal case and a related civil lawsuit.

“It is offensive to me as an attorney, but more important it’s a waste of public resources,” Peters said in an interview. “This is strange behavior from an attorney who says he doesn’t have enough resources.”

Aguirre denied wrongdoing, saying he believes the city’s bylaws give him the right to “demand and receive” any document in the city’s possession.

Peters shared one memo from Aguirre, which requests documents relating to the council president’s votes on the city attorney’s budgets for fiscal years 2007 and 2008. But Peters declined to show others, saying most of the requests from Aguirre’s office were marked as confidential.

Peters warned Aguirre that he and other officials who are subjected to the requests could be forced to hire outside attorneys to defend themselves, but said he didn’t think Aguirre would be “stupid enough” to sue council members over the documents.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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