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On Friday, SANDAG’s board of directors approved an independent investigation into what went wrong with the agency’s forecasts, which led to a multibillion-dollar shortfall, and knowingly faulty claims on the November ballot.
The board is largely made up of mayors from cities around the county, and though there was unanimous support for an outside investigation, the response from North County electeds has been varied when it comes to the scandal.
Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, who opposed November’s Measure A, and Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, who supported it, chalked the overstated revenue projections up to the difficulty of making forecasts. Hall also laid part of the blame at the feet of outside experts who provided information used in the forecast.
As Andy Keatts writes, those explanations came despite an admission during the meeting that an inarguable error was made, which was described as a “copy-paste mistake.”
Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, and San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, who is running for county supervisor in District 5, took a harder line and pushed for a vote that day to have the board’s executive committee come up with a list of independent investigators.
Mayor Judy Ritter of Vista and Councilman David Zito of Solana Beach didn’t say much, but also supported the outside investigation.
Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery, who was filling in for Mayor Jim Wood, noted the faulty projections ultimately roll down to the cities, which use SANDAG’s data to fund and make decisions on local projects.
Issa Walks Back His Call for a Special Prosecutor
If there was any lingering confusion over Rep. Darrell Issa’s stance on investigating Russian interference in the election, he put it to rest with a vote on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
The committee was weighing a “resolution of inquiry,” which would have required the Executive Branch to give documents to Congress. Issa voted against the resolution, and it was ultimately defeated along party lines.
“Virtually without fail, my investigations started with letters,” Issa said, according to The Washington Post. “So I, with utmost of respect for my colleagues, would ask that we use the system first.”
That’s a big change from what he said on “Real Time With Bill Maher” on Friday, where Issa said he would ask the House and Senate intelligence committees to investigate Russian meddling in the election, and that a special prosecutor should look into it.
“You cannot have somebody – a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions – who was on the campaign, and who was an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office,” Issa said.
By Monday, he seemed to walk back that statement in an interview with CBS News.
“I certainly could see where if there is an allegation of a crime at some point, the call for a special prosecutor makes sense,” Issa said. “I think it’s very important to realize there’s been no allegation by any part of this administration or by anyone who’s been to the hearings about any crimes.”
Also on Monday, Issa issued a statement reiterating his call for an independent investigation, while seeming to lay the blame for the current questions of Russian interference on the Obama administration.
More From CA-49 …
The Union-Tribune reports this week that Doug Applegate’s campaign finances are being questioned by federal election officials. Nearly $400,000 in cash was left off the year-end reports with no explanation.
Watchdog reporter Morgan Cook writes:
“Applegate’s campaign has missed deadlines for five requests for additional information from the Federal Election Commission since July, records show. Election officials’ concerns include mathematical errors, misidentification of contributors, failure to adequately describe expenditures and discrepancies in accounting for loans Applegate made to the campaign.”
Applegate’s campaign chalks it up to bad bookkeeping, and said they are working with the FEC to correct the errors.
“We have no reason to believe that there was anything greater than just shoddy paperwork, which we are fixing,” Robert Dempsey, Applegate’s campaign manager told the U-T.
One expert in campaign laws said that Applegate’s reporting errors, are a rookie mistake.
“Unfortunately, it is not that unusual for a first-time candidate to fail to respond to multiple … letters — they’re focused on the campaign, not FEC compliance,” attorney Brett Kappel told the paper. “While it’s not unusual, it is a very bad practice that can have severely negative consequences.”
Also in the News
• Protesters have also been gathering at Rep. Duncan Hunter’s offices, and he apparently told an Indivisible group he wasn’t accepting any more meetings with them, and that they’d be trespassing in his office. (KPBS, Indivisible 49)
• A San Ysidro man who was caught in Oceanside with $2.1 million in cocaine and meth has pleaded guilty. (Union-Tribune)
• Former Supervisor Dave Roberts wants workers compensation for stress and a hand injury. (Union-Tribune)
• A forum looked at the history of Coast Highway, and how it can continue to benefit towns in the future. (The Coast News)
• Whether the main drag in Escondido is thriving or floundering depends on who you ask. (Union-Tribune)
• A look at the life of a survivor of the Bataan Death March, who died in Carlsbad this week. (Union-Tribune)
• The Oceanside Planning Commission put the kibosh on a plan to develop the city’s agricultural area. (Union-Tribune)
• Lake Poway is full, and could soon spill over. (Union-Tribune)