The city of Sacramento has been billed nearly $50,000 by two law firms that investigated an employee claim of sexual harassment against Councilman Allen Warren, according to invoices obtained by The Sacramento Bee under the Public Records Act.
The City Attorney’s Office has received invoices totaling $48,485 so far related to the contracts with law firms VanDermyden Maddux and Angelo, Kilday & Kilduff, records show. Most of that – just over $36,000 – went to VanDermyden Maddux, which led the outside review of the claim against Warren. Most of the bills have been paid, according to the invoices.
Angelo, Kilday & Kilduff has only billed the city for work through Dec. 2, and Supervising Deputy City Attorney Brett Witter said it is likely the firm will bill the city for more work conducted later in December.
Delia Chacon, a former aide in Warren’s council office, filed a claim with the city on July 31 accusing Warren of threatening to fire her if she ended their sexual relationship. Chacon, 45, said in her claim she was later fired, but the circumstances of her dismissal are unclear.
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Warren – who represents North Sacramento on the City Council – has called the claim false and has said he cooperated with the investigation. He said earlier this month that he had not seen the results of the investigation. He did not return a message seeking comment this week.
The City Attorney’s Office has said it hired the outside firms to provide an independent review of the claim against Warren. However, city officials have refused to release any documents related to the investigation findings or discuss the results, citing four exemptions, including that the public interest is better served by withholding the records.
VanDermyden Maddux sent its findings to the City Attorney’s Office on Dec. 29.
Craig Powell, president of local watchdog group Eye on Sacramento, said the legal bill paid by the city for the Warren investigation “adds insult to injury.”
“The first insult was the city covering up the results of the investigation so we don’t know if our council member has been found innocent or guilty,” Powell said. “And the second layer of insult is that they’re sticking the taxpayers with a $50,000 bill for that cover-up.”
Powell said the City Council should order City Attorney James Sanchez to release the findings of the investigation.
In denying a Bee request for documents, the City Attorney’s Office said the records were exempt from the state’s public records laws because: the public interest was better served by not disclosing the documents; the records were “generated in anticipation of litigation”; they are personnel records; and they are protected by attorney-client privilege.
Sanchez has said he is not aware of any financial settlement between Warren and Chacon. Any settlement using taxpayer dollars would be public record. Chacon has not filed a lawsuit against Warren, and her attorney has not returned multiple calls seeking comment.
Warren’s first term in office expires this year, and he has not said whether he will run for re-election in the June primary. Candidates have until March 11 to determine whether they will run for Warren’s seat.
Powell said the timing of the election adds to the urgency of the public’s right to know the results of the investigation.
“We shouldn’t be having elections where the city knows the truth but is keeping it from the voters who are going to be making the decision of whether to re-elect this fellow or not,” he said. “What an incredible disservice.”