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In talking with people since the SEC filed securities fraud charges here this week, one question has continually surfaced: Why did it take this long to bring the charges?

The Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating the city of San Diego and its officials more than four years ago. Kroll issued its investigation in August 2006. The SEC settled with the city as an entity a year and a half ago. And the allegations contained in its complaint this week are quite similar to those in the city’s settlement.

I asked Kelly Bowers at the SEC why it has taken this long when a lot of these allegations seemed to be old news. Here was his answer:

The commission is a very deliberative body and very careful in making its enforcement decisions. It just takes a little while to bring the appropriate case.

I’m not sure that this answers the question. But the next one to come to mind is where the investigation could possibly go after this. It would seem the commission would’ve had enough time and enough information after four years to bring charges against any additional individuals. For his part, Council President Scott Peters says he doesn’t think the council members will get in trouble.

And Bowers’ statement in my Tuesday story didn’t exactly make it sound like the investigation was going full-throttle:

“I guess at this point our investigation is still continuing,” said Kelly Bowers, senior assistant regional director in the SEC’s Los Angeles office.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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