Investigators with the San Diego County District Attorney’s public integrity unit are asking questions about Supervisor Dave Roberts' activities first revealed by NBC7 Investigates.
The supervisor's former administrative assistant Brittany Shaw told NBC7 she received a business card from a DA investigator taped to her door. Shaw is out-of-town, but a friend contacted her and told her about the card.
Others confirmed to NBC7 Investigates the District Attorney’s interest.
The investigation could involve allegations made by former staffer Diane Porter, who has filed a claim against the county, alleging the supervisor misused public funds and had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.
Roberts' spokesman Gary Gartner planned a news conference for Wednesday afternoon, saying he will release documents that prove the allegations are untrue. However, they did not get the documents ready in time, so the conference was postponed until Thursday.
Instead, Gartner sent this statement:
"A thorough investigation by the District Attorney will confirm that there is no wrongdoing by Dave Roberts. Supervisor Roberts will ask the county to release to the District Attorney the results of the county's confidential internal investigation into these false allegations. We are confident that the false allegations that have been made by a former employee will be proven to be untrue."
In a statement emailed to NBC 7, DA spokesman Steve Walker said, "The District Attorney’s Office does not confirm the existence of ongoing investigations. When we receive information regarding potential criminal wrongdoing, we take the responsibility to review that information very seriously. Not every review or investigation results in a criminal prosecution.”
Veteran political strategist Gary Gartner was hired by the supervisor to handle his current image problem. Gartner, from San Francisco's Bay Area, is a veteran of numerous political wars across California.
He told NBC7 he is being paid out of Roberts' campaign funds — a legitimate use of funds under current state law.
When asked about the legality, Jay Wierenga, communications director at the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, said his office could not comment on specific cases, but in general, “It’s legal as long as the money is spent for political, legislative or governmental purpose," he said.
Crisis management for the supervisor qualifies for the funds.
Last week, legal experts told NBC 7 Investigates that if three of Porter's accusations prove to be true, Roberts could face a criminal investigation.
The allegations are:
- Roberts spent slightly just under $1,000 on personalized baseball cards and then asked Porter to “make them disappear.”
- Roberts offered a staffer money and a higher position to tell Human Resources that Porter was lying.
- Roberts double-dipped into the county car allowance benefit by accepting $1,000 per month for his personal car, but then used a county vehicle.
In her claim, Porter details how she was asked to perform Roberts’ campaign and personal tasks on county time.
Through her complaint, Porter also claims that Roberts pursued an “inappropriate” relationship with Harold Meza, an intern-turned-staffer who acted as Roberts’ chauffeur.
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.