FBI Agents Investigate Los Angeles City Attorney

The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that San Francisco-based FBI agents have begun a criminal investigation of Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. The newspaper quoted sources familiar with the FBI investigation as saying that agents recently went to Los Angeles to conduct interviews. The investigation was spurred on by criticism over Delgadillo allegedly using city resources for personal benefit.

Delgadillo's office told the Weekly that the city attorney has yet to be informed about the investigation or interviewed by agents.

“This garbage is being shuffled by the city attorney's political opponents hiding behind a cloak of anonymity,” says Delgadillo spokesperson Nick Velasquez. “They have already seen reports of the city attorney running for attorney general and are engaging in a classic political assassination. The city attorney has not been contacted by any agency regarding this matter. Any allegation of any wrongdoing is garbage.”

According to news reports, City Controller Laura Chick was interviewed by agents in the last few weeks.

FBI spokesperson Joseph Schadler wouldn't “confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.”

City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo

In 2007, Delgadillo admitted that he had his city-owned SUV fixed at taxpayer's expense after his wife ran into a pole. He was also criticized for using city employees to babysit his children and pick up his dry cleaning. However, the Chronicle article failed to point out Delgadillo's cozy relationship with a veteran city hall lobbyist who represented Clear Channel during its lawsuit against the city and who helped throw a party for Delgadillo in March of 2007. Curbed LA blogged about the connection today.

Last week, Delgadillo filed a lawsuit against City Controller Laura Chick over her proposed audit of the city attorney's $128 million workers’ compensation program. Chick said the City Charter gives her the right to audit the city attorney. Delgadillo argued that Chick only has the power to do financial audits, not performance audits. Later, the city attorney agreed to drop the lawsuit if Chick backed off of the audit until the debate over her powers is resolved. Chick said she would stop if Delgadillo didn’t move forward on his lawsuit.

Delgadillo’s lawsuit does take a couple of good shots at Chick’s political motivation. The lawsuit alleged that Chick pulled the same stunt during the mayoral election in 2005 when the city controller “admitted to pursuing ‘political activism’ by culling information she learned during performance audits of city departments to create a road map for opposition candidates to attack Mayor [Jim] Hahn’s leadership.”

Has Chick been feeding information to the FBI behind Delgadillo's back? Is a political opponent who is vying for the job as state attorney general responsible? Or is the U.S. Attorney's Office finally getting around to looking at a complaint filed by a disgruntled office worker or member of the public after the city attorney's admitted ethical lapses last year?

Velasquez says that the story was “shopped to local papers and they wouldn't bite on it.”

“It basically rehashes every negative thing said about the guy,” he says. “He has acknowledged that he has made mistakes and his wife made mistakes.”

The investigation is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco because of conflict of interest concerns that could arise because the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles regularly works cases with the city attorney, the Chronicle reported. However, an FBI source told the Weekly that it was highly unlikely that agents from San Francisco would be working a case in Los Angeles.

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