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With news breaking last week both locally and in Sacramento regarding Irvine’s investigation into the Great Park, one of the probe’s primary targets is welcoming more agencies into the fray.
San Diego-based Gafcon Inc., a former Great Park consultant, said it’s open to investigations “from all levels, whether it be from the State Legislature, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Attorney General or the Orange County District Attorney’s office,” according to a statement released to the media on Friday.
The statement comes after the DA’s office last week declared it is reviewing whether to file criminal charges stemming from the city’s investigation.
In a letter to a state legislative committee, which is scheduled next month to consider an investigation of the city’s investigation, the DA’s office states that a deputy DA has been assigned the Great Park case for “criminal prosecution review“ and referenced a “local federal task force investigating public corruption.”
Meanwhile, after months of delays, the city’s investigation into over $200 million spent on the park project is scheduled to be released March 24.
The probe — commissioned by a Republican City Council majority that seized power in the 2012 election — has zeroed in on a handful of political players and consultants, including Gafcon, as the responsible parties in a massive public project gone awry.
A series of depositions and a preliminary audit by Newport Beach-based Hagen, Streiff, Newton & Oshiro Accountants, PC (HSNO) point to mismanagement, waste and abuse at the 1,300-acre park project, which was envisioned to compete with destinations like New York’s Central Park but has so far failed to live up to expectations.
Gafcon and others targeted by the investigation counter that it’s a political witch-hunt intended to bolster the fortunes of the Republicans who took control of the council. The former council majority – which had controlled the park project since its inception a decade ago – was comprised of Democrats.
The firm released an hour-and-a-half long video rebutting allegations against the firm, made in a preliminary audit released last year, as false or misleading.
It has also called for nothing less than a complete retraction of the audit, claiming it is inaccurate and has caused millions of dollars in lost business. The firm has also asked for a meeting with retired judge Nancy Wieben Stock, who was hired by the city to act as an independent mediator.
“We have called on the City to withdraw the audit and acknowledge the serious flaws in these reports, and yet again, we have received no response,” reads a statement from Alan Ziegaus, chairman of Southwest Strategies, LLC and Gafcon’s spokesman.