Updated at 1:30 p.m. May 15, 2015
A day after being accused of an extramarital affair and making his office so toxic and “hostile” that four aides resigned, county Supervisor Dave Roberts has responded to the growing scandal bringing calls for his resignation.
The lone Democrat on the county Board of Supervisors, who Wednesday was accused of cheating on his spouse, Wally Oliver, with a taxpayer-paid chauffeur, issued a statement via email Thursday.
“I am disheartened to see the allegations contained in one former employee’s complaint that was filed with the County on Wednesday,” Roberts said in a note sent just before 4 p.m. by policy aide Adam Kaye.
“This claim contains many inaccuracies. I am confident that if this matter advances further, the inaccuracies will be proven for what they are. As the allegations currently present a threat of litigation, I cannot discuss them further at this time.”
On Friday, U-T San Diego quoted Escondido Mayor Sam Abed as saying: “I didn’t know that the problem was at this level. I thought it was just one person and one incident. But when you have so many problems and violations with so many people, I think that this is not an isolated incident. It’s a trend and that is very concerning to Escondido residents.”
Abed, a Republican, denied that politics was part of his call for Roberts to consider resigning.
“I have had a good relationship with Supervisor Roberts and we work together. But this is not an issue about policy,” Abed said. “It’s an issue of character and integrity in leadership in Escondido.”
Ignited by NBC San Diego investigations and followed by an explosive story in the U-T, the scandal threatens to engulf Roberts the way Mayor Bob Filner was in the run-up to his resignation on sex-harassment claims.
Under the headline “WHICH COUNTY SUPERVISOR HAS THE GUTS TO CALL FOR DAVE ROBERTS’ RESIGNATION?” Greg Larkin wrote on the conservative blog sdrostra.com:
“Yet, aside from the legal process, there’s also the point at which a scandal reaches the tipping point of no going back. There’s also the point when a public official becomes such a distraction that his or her constituents can no longer be represented fairly.
“The point when the government agency itself becomes embarrassed. That’s the time for the other elected officials to have some resolve. That time may be quickly approaching.”
In a Rostra comment, San Diego Tax Fighters leader Richard Rider said it appears that Roberts is toast.
“It’s only a question of whether he resigns, a recall campaign is instituted, or he toughs it out until the regular election,” Rider wrote. “Given the fact that he’ll never again makes this high a salary, I suspect he’ll try to tough it out.”
Rider called the supervisor job the ideal office to hold — “pays about $150K with great benefits, is often ‘below the radar’ and involves no Sacramento or DC travel.”
On the liberal blog San Diego Free Press, the headline was “GOP Vultures Circle North County,” but Doug Porter wrote: “Dave Roberts’ troubles may not be over. While there are already people out there saying this may be a GOP plot, I suggest to them they consider the possibility that Roberts is actually self-destructing.”
Roberts, elected in November 2012, represents the 3rd District, which includes 4S Ranch, Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo and Solana Beach — where he was on the City Council.
The case began with hints of unhappy staffers but exploded Wednesday when a former scheduler for Roberts filed a complaint with the county alleging a boatload of offenses, including misuse of county money.
The former aide, Diane Porter, says she’ll drop her claim in exchange for $250,000.
SD Rostra poked fun at allegations that Roberts used county money to print 10,000 baseball-style cards — which staffers labeled a misuse of taxpayer funds.
“I have now completed my San Diego Dave Roberts baseball card collection!” wrote Mark Robak under the headline “TRADE YOU TWO ROBERTS FOR A FILNER?”
The rest of the Board of Supervisors has signaled that the county won’t pay for any legal costs Roberts incurs in defending himself and also alleged Brown Act violations.
U-T San Diego also reported:
Porter is one of four of Roberts’ staffers to resign in a three-week span in an office that has seen more turnover than all four other supervisors combined. Since April 14, Chief of Staff Glyniss Vaughan also resigned, as did Deputy Chief of Staff Lindsey Masukawa and Brittany Shaw, an administrative assistant.
On the Seaside Courier website, longtime local journalist Thomas K. Arnold wrote Thursday:
Is freshman county Supervisor Dave Roberts’ term unraveling? … The local GOP is gleeful, issuing a press release stating that the scandal marks “the beginning of the end” of the former Solana Beach city councilman’s tenure on the county board.
He asked readers: “What do you think? Should Roberts resign or fight on? Innocent until proven guilty is the law of the land, but in politics when scandal hits the politician usually steps down, depending on the severity of the allegations and the likelihood that they are true.”
Among Porter’s most salacious allegations involve Roberts spending nights on the taxpayers’ dime with his aide Harold Meza, a former barista, including once on a Jan. 24 trip to the Colorado River for a water authority tour of the aqueduct:
“Harold Meza accompanied Mr. Roberts on this trip,” said the wrongful-termination claim written by Porter’s lawyer, Christopher Morris. “When preparing the expense report, Ms. Porter noted that there was just one hotel room. After the trip, Ms. Porter received a call from Mr. Roberts’ spouse, Wally, who asked if the supervisor had shared a room. Ms. Porter stated that he had shared a room with Mr. Meza. Later that week Mr. Roberts approached Ms. Porter and coyly stated that ‘we don’t need to tell Wally everything now, do we?’
“In one particularly awkward exchange, Mr. Roberts was discussing an upcoming opera by the name of Oedipus El Rey. When it was noted that this particular opera featured nudity, Mr. Roberts winked at Ms. Porter, who was scheduling the event, and wryly smiled and said, ‘make sure Harold comes with me to that.'”
Even before the latest accusations, U-T North County columnist Logan Jenkins found Republicans talking about challenging Roberts in the 2016 election.
Jenkins quoted county Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric as saying: “Dave Roberts is on the ropes and there will be a challenger.”
As it happens, the GOP has a deep bench in District 3. Bullpen names bandied about: Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, former Assemblyman Martin Garrick, former state Sen. Mark Wyland, Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, Assemblyman Brian Maienschein.
But insiders believe that San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey, a first-termer who won Carl DeMaio’s North County seat without opposition, may get the ball.
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