Why would former employees make false allegations they knew were not true? That’s the question San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts wants answered.
In an interview with NBC 7 Investigates Thursday, he said he feels betrayed by the staffers who have turned against him, filing claims that allege he misused public funds, practiced favoritism and was abusive to personnel in his district office.
Roberts said he had no clue why they would turn against him like they have. It would be a reoccurring theme throughout the interview: Roberts saying he was distraught that his former Chief of Staff Glynnis Vaughan and his former appointment scheduler Diane Porter misled him, lied and kept him in the dark about staff problems.
He accused the women of appearing to support his efforts for the district but then turning on him. “The truth will come out,” Roberts promised.
Vaughan was the primary problem, he said. The supervisor, who now admits his hiring of Vaughan was a mistake, faulted Vaughan for her lack of leadership and inability to keep him posted about problems in the district office.
“I first learned of all of this from Diane Porter,” he told NBC 7. Porter quit on April 14 and is now suing the county for $250,000 in a complaint alleging a hostile work environment, among other things.
It was Porter who told Roberts that staff members were upset over what they perceived as the supervisor playing favorites, specifically with staff member Harold Meza, whom some viewed as the “teacher’s pet.”
“Why didn’t Glynnis Vaughan come and tell me there was something she was not happy with?” asked Roberts. “She told the CAO (County Administrative Office), she told the county counsel, she told the head of Health and Human Services.”
In her claim, Vaughan said she did go to the supervisor and laid out the problems of favoritism and other issues she was seeing in the office. But she said Roberts ignored her suggestions and concerns.
Roberts defended Meza, his community representative. He has done an excellent job, said Roberts, and has a great future with the county.
“To say he is having an inappropriate relationship, that’s wrong, when you make charges like that against somebody,” he said, explaining that they have a good working relationship “I am very comfortable as a gay man and Mr. Meza is very comfortable as a straight man.”
He added that he is truly offended by the allegations made by Porter and Vaughan.
“[Meza]has done a declaration under oath under the penalty of perjury that he is telling the truth,” said Roberts. “When these two other claimants do the same, then we are going to have something to talk about because it will be a lie.” It’s his contention that the two claims filed were signed by their attorneys and therefore the women have made no accusations under oath.
Attorney Chris Morris, representing Porter, and attorney Lynne Lasry, representing Vaughan, said their clients signed their claims against the county of San Diego under oath. They stand by their claims as previously reported.
Months before Thursday’s interview, Roberts had told NBC 7 Investigates that Vaughan had taken a couple sick days off and would return the following week. However, she never returned and instead filed a claim against the office for $425,000, accusing the supervisor of misusing public funds, among other allegations.
Roberts had also told NBC 7 Investigates in the same, on-the-record conversation how happy his staff was. This contradicted what we had found: that eight of his 11 staffers had left since the first of the year. Roberts had said we had our information wrong.
In Thursday’s interview, the supervisor back-tracked on his earlier statement, explaining, “I didn’t know the information you had.” He alleges he was kept in the dark about problems with the staff.
He went to say the two women were providing NBC 7 Investigates with information about problems in the office that he was unaware of. “That’s one of the main mysteries in all of this, you had information I did not have,” said Roberts.
Another alleged problem swirling around the supervisor’s office was the printing, at taxpayers’ expense, of baseball cards with Roberts’ picture on the front of them. When asked if this was an issue of using public funds to advance his political career, Roberts said no, it’s been done before to keep the public informed on topics.
According to the supervisor, Vaughan really liked the idea. He said he decided to stop the project when he reviewed the cards and thought, “This looks terrible.” He said the cards were taken from the office to Porter’s garage without his permission, which contradicts her claim. In it, Porter said Roberts called her and told her to “make the cards disappear.”
She provided NBC 7 Investigates a copy of an April 3 email that she sent to county counsel advising them that the cards were in her garage. Roberts said he knows that “you can’t take government property” and the cards will now be returned to the county.
The claim filed by Lasry on behalf of Vaughan alleges the supervisor had been involved in an unapproved contract with an Arizona consultant, a person who was versed in “one of my top priorities, public safety issues” said Roberts.
The bill for the consultant’s services was $28,900. Roberts said he thought Vaughan was “going to look into it but that obviously never happened,” adding that it was acceptable practice for supervisors to hire outside consultants.
Following the supervisor’s interview, NBC 7 Investigates talked to Diane Porter regarding the allegations made by Roberts.
“What proof does he have?” she asked. “I have pages and pages of texts and emails.” She said some of the more recent allegations against both her and Vaughan made by the supervisor and his supporters were inaccurate.
As to her accusing Meza and the supervisor of having an inappropriate relationship, she said that during a road trip to the Colorado River, “I never questioned why they ended up in a room together. I just made notes that they did. It may raise the eyebrows of other people.” However, Porter said there was a text message sent to her during that trip that she found inappropriate.
Vaughan's attorney Lasry sent NBC 7 Investigates the following statement about Roberts' interview:
"Ms. Vaughan has 18+ years of experience working in public service. She is a well-regarded professional in San Diego, and served accordingly as Chief of Staff for Supervisor Dave Roberts.
Although Supervisor Dave Roberts has apparently decided to revert to stereotypical arguments that women cannot work together, including his mischaracterization of Ms. Porter and Ms. Vaughan’s professional relationship, the fact is Supervisor Dave Roberts created, and continues to create, his own problems. Ms. Vaughan and Ms. Porter had a good, friendly working relationship.
"Supervisor Dave Roberts’ claim that he was unaware of concerns held by members of his staff during Ms. Vaughan’s tenure, or that he wasn’t told of these concerns directly by Ms. Vaughan (and others), is not accurate."
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