County Supervisor Dave Roberts Defends Himself in Email to Constituents - NBC 7 San Diego
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Ex-staffers say Dave Roberts created "hostile" environment

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County Supervisor Dave Roberts Defends Himself in Email to Constituents

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts said allegations against him, claiming that he misused public funds and retaliated against employees, have not affected his “accessibility or responsiveness” to his district.

    In an email to his Third District constituents on Friday, Roberts said he is disheartened to see the claim filed by former scheduler Diane Porter against San Diego County. In it, Porter says Roberts improperly spent county funds on campaign items, carried on an inappropriate relationship with a staffer and retaliated against those who spoke out against it.

    Roberts said in the email that the claim contains many inaccuracies, which will be “proven for what they are” if the case moves forward.

    “In light of recent media coverage related to former personnel, I wish to assure the public that those matters have not impacted my accessibility or responsiveness, nor my determination to provide the best possible representation to the Third District,” his email reads.

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    Since the beginning of the year, eight of his 11 staff members have resigned. Roberts said he has taken actions to strengthen his team, including hiring a new chief of staff, Mel Millstein. 

    “I appreciate your confidence in me and not automatically jumping to conclusions before the facts are known,” Roberts wrote in the email.

    The supervisor said he cannot comment further because the allegations present a litigation threat to the county. Roberts’ district covers neighborhoods like Encinitas, Escondido, Del Mar, Rancho Penasquitos, Sorrento Valley and Carmel Valley. Click here for a map.

    On Friday, Michael Pallamary, an organizer behind 2013's Recall Filner campaign, called for Roberts to resign by May 22.

    "Accusations of the sort leveled against you, regardless of the motivation or merit, do irreparable harm to the office that you occupy," he said in a letter to the supervisor. "In addition, a controversy such as this will escalate and end up costing taxpayers thousands of dollars while concurrently interrupting the important flow of public business."

    Pallamary told Roberts that the accusations will become a major distraction, so he thinks the supervisor should focus his time and attention to defending himself against the allegations — in private.

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    Escondido Mayor Sam Abed echoed the sentiment, saying if Porter's claim is true, he too wants Roberts to step down. He called on Roberts to publicly address the charges against him.

    “Public office is a high trust and if the allegations against Supervisor Dave Roberts are true, he should immediately resign. The people put their faith in elected officials to uphold the highest standards of integrity and above all, to uphold and abide by the law.” Abed said in a statement. “No one is above the law and the only remedy for restoring the public’s confidence once violated, is to promptly resign.”

    Porter filed her claim against the county Wednesday, asking for $250,000 to settle it. In the document, she details how she was asked to perform Roberts’ campaign and personal tasks on county time.

    In one example, Porter said Roberts had his staff buy “Dave Roberts baseball cards” for just under $1,000, using county funds. When his friends said they look too political, Roberts told Porter to “make them disappear,” she wrote in the claim.

    Click here to read other allegations of taxpayer money misuse.

    Through her complaint, Porter also claims that Roberts pursued an “inappropriate” relationship with Harold Meza, an intern-turned-staffer who acted as Roberts’ chauffeur.

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    On trips to Brawley and the Colorado River, Roberts and Meza shared a room, Porter said. His chief of staff at the time, Glynnis Vaughan, confronted the supervisor about the situation, telling him it is not right to sleep in the same room as an employee. From that point on, Porter said Roberts sent his hotel booking plans to her personal email.

    According to the claim, fellow employees took issue with Meza’s work, but when Vaughan and Porter brought it up to Roberts, “it just turned into Dave telling us how wonderful Harold was and he’s amazing and he’s perfect,” Porter said.

    So Vaughan and Porter took their complaints to Human Resources. Later that night, they learned Roberts had been told everything they said. According to Porter, HR first told her she would be transferred elsewhere in the county, but then told her she had to return to work in Roberts’ office.

    On April 1, another Roberts' staffer called Porter with a warning. She said Roberts was planning on firing Porter because he blamed her for the problems in the office. The staffer told Porter she was offered the official deputy chief of staff position with a pay raise, and in exchange, she would have to go to HR and tell them Porter's reports were a lie.

    Instead Porter resigned on April 14.

    The county’s board of supervisors has declined to comment on the accusations, but it did say earlier this week that any settlements with Roberts’ former staffers will be paid by him, not taxpayer dollars.

    On Thursday, legal experts told NBC 7 Investigates that if three of the accusations prove to be true, Roberts could face a criminal investigation.