The Anaheim City Council on Tuesday discussed, but took no action, on nearly $180,000 in claims filed against the city by the mayor, a council member and two others who were accused of campaign finance abuses in 1996.
Those caught up in the scandal said they were victims of a political vendetta by an out-of-control special prosecutor, and are asking the city to reimburse the fines and attorneys' fees they paid.
The city council discussed the claims during a closed session Tuesday night, but no vote was taken. The matter is expected to be considered again.
Mayor Tom Daly has filed claims against the city for $100,000 in general damages, and for $25,000 to $35,000 in attorneys' fees.
"This was the necessary first step to pursue reimbursement," Daly said after the meeting. "I'm still considering various legal options, under the advice of my attorney."
Councilman Frank Feldhaus has filed a $15,000 claim to recoup money he paid in fines and legal expenses. Former Councilman Irv Pickler has requested a $29,000 for his attorneys fees. Debra Daly, the mayor's ex-wife and former campaign manager, has filed a claim asking for unspecified damages.
The claims are just the latest wrinkle in a bitter political feud that dates back to 1996, when the council hired special prosecutor Ravi Mehta to investigate allegations that several city officials had violated campaign finance laws in that year's election. At the time, Anaheim limited individual campaign contributions to $1,000 for local candidates.
Mehta, former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, filed misdemeanor charges against Daly and Pickler. Mehta accused them of accepting campaign contributions that exceeded donation limits, and for failing to itemize and report those donations. Debra Daly, the mayor's former campaign treasurer, also was charged in the case.
Mehta also threatened criminal prosecutions against Feldhaus and Councilwoman Shirley McCracken for similar violations. But those defendants agreed to settle their cases, and both paid fines to the city. McCracken has not filed a claim against the city.
Charges against Daly and Pickler were eventually dismissed.