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San Diego County to pay $310,000 for ‘hostile work environment’ claims against supervisor

Dave Roberts

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has agreed to pay $310,000 to settle three claims against Supervisor Dave Roberts by three ex-employees. 

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has agreed to pay $310,000 to settle claims against Supervisor Dave Roberts by three ex-employees, asserting he “promoted a hostile work environment." 

In announcing the decision Tuesday, the four Republican supervisors issued a statement criticizing their Democratic colleague for, “at a minimum,” showing poor judgment with staff members, making inconsistent statements and then reneging on a promise to settle the claims with private funds.

An investigation led by the county counsel, the statement said, “although not conclusive” showed “a hostile work environment, an alleged bribe, campaigning on county time, improper use of a county vehicle, and retaliation against District 3 staff members.”

If the claims became lawsuits, defending Roberts could cost taxpayers more than $1 million although “we believe it is unlikely we would prevail on all three claims,” the supervisors’ statement said.

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Roberts’ former chief of staff and two other ex-employees were seeking a total of $1,075,000 in compensation, the supervisors’ statement said.

In response, Roberts issued his own statement: “Now that the settlement has taken place, we are moving forward. While I strongly oppose the action taken today by a majority of the Board of Supervisors, I respect my colleagues’ right to make such a decision. ...

“My staff and I will continue to work hard delivering results for the people of the Third District as I have strived to do since my first day in office.”

Roberts, 54, was elected in 2012, the first Democrat on the five-member board in two decades. He was a member of the Solana Beach City Council. Before entering politics, he was a budget analyst for the Department of Defense and then a corporate vice president for La Jolla-based defense contractor SAIC.

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Roberts is seeking reelection. The mayors of Encinitas and Escondido are running against him.

Along with the statement, the supervisors released a binder of emails, interview transcripts and other documents gathered by the county counsel during the investigation.

The investigation delved into assertions that, among other things, Roberts had an “inappropriate relationship” with a staff member who acted as his driver and traveled with him and that Roberts also tried to bribe another staff member with a promotion to make false statements when asked about trouble in his office.

For more San Diego County news, follow @LATsandiego.

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