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More than nine months of investigation into the conduct of City Auditor Eduardo Luna and his top deputy, Chris Constantin, should come to a close Thursday, but a new struggle over the resulting legal fees might just be beginning.

A closed-door Audit Committee hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon will wrap the probe, a spokesman for committee chairman Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday.

Auditor department employees complained last spring that Luna and Constantin created a hostile work environment and then intimidated people who took part in an investigation into their behavior. Taxpayers spent more than $120,000 on investigative reports from two outside law firms, the last of which was finished in November. The city has refused to release the completed reports, saying the overall examination is ongoing.

Luna has requested the city pay him back for the private attorney he hired to fight the claims, said Risk Management Director Greg Bych.

Luna’s lawyer, former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, has argued the investigations are an illegal infringement on the auditor’s independence. The probe began while Luna was in the middle of a controversial audit of the city’s Development Services Department, which was under the authority of former Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Faulconer spokesman Matt Awbrey said he was unaware of Luna’s legal reimbursement request. He said the Risk Management Department, which Mayor Bob Filner controls, would decide whether to pay.

“It’s up to them to determine if it’s in the best interests of the citizens to pay for this claim,” Awbrey said.

No details on Luna’s legal reimbursement claim were immediately available. City officials haven’t responded to a request for the claim.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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