San Diego City Auditor Eduardo Luna says in his request for taxpayers to pay his legal bills that the nine-month-old investigation into his conduct turned up nothing.
Luna wants the city to reimburse him $39,090 for attorney’s fees paid to his lawyer, former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, according to a Feb. 26 claim to the city’s Risk Management Department, which Voice of San Diego obtained through a public records request.
Luna and his top deputy, Chris Constantin, were accused of creating a hostile work environment and retaliating against audit employees among other allegations last spring. Two outside law firms were paid $120,000 to look into the claims and both reports were finished by November. But the Audit Committee still hasn’t resolved the matter. The committee is poised to blow past Chairman Kevin Faulconer’s self-imposed deadline to finish the case in March. It took no action following a two-hour closed-door meeting Thursday.
But in the Feb. 26 claim, Luna says he’s been cleared.
“After the issues were investigated, the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated,” Luna writes.
Aguirre acknowledged Friday that the Audit Committee hasn’t yet formally cleared Luna, and repeated previous claims that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told him the first investigation turned up nothing against Luna. Aguirre says that made the second investigation irrelevant.
“That’s our position, but that doesn’t mean that’s their position,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre also defended the timing of Luna’s request for personal attorney fees. That’s against recent precedent. When Mayor Bob Filner asked for taxpayer money for a personal attorney in this month’s tourism marketing district flap, he received approval from the City Council before incurring expenses. Luna did not seek advance approval — he simply sent the city a bill.
Aguirre said Luna couldn’t have asked for the money sooner because he was required to keep the case confidential. Multiple media reports airing the allegations publicly didn’t change that requirement, Aguirre said.
The city has refused to release the two investigative reports, saying the Audit Committee needs to make a decision first. Aguirre wouldn’t say whether he or Luna has reviewed the reports, citing attorney-client privilege. That’s a different answer than he gave in February, when he complained he hadn’t seen them.
The Audit Committee is scheduled to discuss the issue again April 8.
Update: Constantin was hired as finance director for the city of Chico on Friday, and will start there April 10, according to the Chico Enterprise Record. The article quotes a Chico councilman praising Constantin’s auditing background, but doesn’t mention the San Diego investigation.
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?
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