ENCINITAS — The San Diego County District Attorney’s office is now investigating complaints against Mayor Dan Dalager. The two-term councilman and current candidate confirmed the investigation and said he welcomes the opportunity to “clear things up.”
An investigation by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission has been temporarily suspended according to officials reached Oct. 26, in deference to the D.A. offices probe. “We have suspended our investigation until the D.A.’s office chooses whether or not to exercise their options,” Executive Director Roman Porter said.
He said nothing precludes the agency that monitors elected officials from continuing its investigation while the D.A. also inquires, but that the agency used its discretion to do so.
“There is also nothing that prevents us from taking it up again,” he said.
Dalager said the complaints are similar to those filed in August with the commission that alleged the mayor received heavily discounted kitchen appliances from a local retailer and later voted in favor of the person on a matter before the council.
A subsequent complaint alleged Dalager failed to report a $100,000 personal loan on state required financial-disclosure paperwork he filed with the city in 2007.
Dalager does not deny the allegations, saying he “goofed” at a recent candidate forum by not properly disclosing the loan. He also said he paid a fair price for the appliances and did not consider the items an “inappropriate gift” as defined by the regulations limiting gifts to public officials.
“The FPPC was just about done with it and didn’t find anything,” Dalager said. “I’m glad it is with the D.A. now; they’re closer. It’s been fun working with them.”
“Until or unless charges are filed the DA’s office cannot confirm or deny that an investigation is taking place,” county district attorney’s office spokesman Paul Levikow said.
Dalager, who is running for re-election, said he believes the allegations are politically motivated. “It’s become a tactic,” he said, referring to filing complaints against a candidate with the commission prior to an election. When asked if he thought his case was similar he replied “darn right it is.”
Despite his critics who have consistently called for his resignation in the face of the scandal, Dalager maintains his resolve to continue the status quo. “When this is straightened out, you wait, there’s nothing there. It’s just slime,” he said.
The longtime resident said that the accusations that he knowingly misled anyone are wrong. “People who know me, I think they know what slime is,” Dalager said. “I think most people are smart enough to realize this is just smear tactics.”
The commission received several complaints beginning in August about kitchen appliances that Dalager purchased at a heavy discount last year from a man who later appealed to the council for permission to keep a retaining wall built illegally on the city’s right-of-way. Dalager said he did not know the issue would come before the council.
However, some residents are unconvinced that Dalager’s actions are benign and look forward to a full vetting by the D.A.’s office. Andrew Audet, a Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident, has called for Dalager’s resignation at several City Council meetings. “Clearly the FPPC didn’t like what they found, which is why they sent it over to the DA for further investigation,” Audet said. “For months Dalager has stonewalled the public, let’s hope the D.A. can make him come clean.”