REGION — The District 3 drama continues, with another former staff member of Dave Roberts filing a claim against the county and the first two who did so being sued by a current employee of the supervisor.
According to documents filed June 8, Lindsey Masukawa, a former policy adviser, “was in total shock by what she understood to be an attempted bribe from Supervisor Roberts that she would get a promotion and substantial raise if she lied to HR.”
Glynnis Vaughn and Diane Porter, his previous chief of staff and scheduler, respectively, reportedly told the county Human Resources Department that Roberts used county funds and staff time for his 2016 re-election campaign, created a hostile work environment and had an unprofessional relationship with a male staffer.
Both women make the same allegations in claims filed last month against the county, a move that is a precursor to a lawsuit.
According to Masukawa’s claim, Roberts asked her to tell human resources both women were lying. Masukawa also is accusing her former boss of sharing closed-session meeting information with labor unions.
Roberts has denied all allegations and noted, based on text messages and otherdocuments, that Porter and Masukawa had a positive relationship with him. He said he believes Vaughn and Porter are making the false statements for financial gain.
“I can’t get into the minds of these two people but … (y)our eyes immediately go to the bottom of both claims and you see the dollar amount they’re asking for and I think it’s pretty apparent what this is all about,” Roberts said.
Vaughn and Porter are seeking settlements of $475,000 and $250,000, respectively, while Masukawa is asking for a minimum of $10,000.
Harold Meza, the young man mentioned or alluded to in all three claims as having an inappropriate relationship with Roberts, a gay married man with six foster children, filed a lawsuit against Vaughn and Porter, accusing them of creating a hostile work environment.
Meza, who has said he is “a straight man in a great relationship with a woman,” worked for Roberts as an unpaid intern for 11 months receiving college credit during his senior year at California State University San Marcos.
He was hired in July 2014 with an annual salary of $47,000 as a policy adviser and community representative. His title was changed to executive assistant and community representative by Vaughn when she took over as chief of staff in January. His retained his original title when she resigned in April.
According to his lawsuit, Meza’s pay and responsibilities never changed.
Meza has been referred to as Roberts’ driver. His attorney, Daniel Gilleon, said his client had “a long list of things he did for the supervisor.”
“No doubt he did drive him,” Gilleon said. “But others did that, too. Harold was not a chauffeur. He got out of the car and went into events, talked with constituents about issues and was involved in research.
“He wasn’t just a driver,” Gilleon said. “That’s so degrading.”
In his lawsuit Meza states he and Porter were friends until she “made a vivid, obscene comment to Meza related to intimate marital problems.” Meza was “shocked and offended,” the lawsuit states, and he told her the office was “not the time or place” for such a discussion.
“As a result of Porter’s offensive, sexually charged language during work hours, Meza felt extremely uncomfortable around Porter, and he would avoid her as much as possible,” according to the document.
“Feeling shunned by Meza and fearing (without justification) that her intimate secrets were not safe with Meza, Porter embarked on a smear campaign,” the lawsuit states.
It also accuses Vaughn of spinning “a deceitful story that would supposedly force her to resign” because she was “generally unhappy and looking for a way to quit her job but blame someone else.”
Meza also claims the two women spread “despicable rumors,” and called him “socially awkward” and a “barista” because he once managed a Starbucks. They also allegedly criticized his job performance, saying “no one knows what you do” and “no one trusts you.”
The allegations of the inappropriate relationship stem from a work trip during which Roberts and Meza were assigned to the same room by the water authority, which hosted the visit.
Roberts said everyone on the trip was assigned to a room with another person of the same gender. He said he and Meza did not share a bed.
“We did not have an affair,” Roberts said “These slanderous, false allegations have to stop. They are a lie.”
Gilleon said his client is suing Vaughn and Porter because they “are asking the taxpayers to pay them for quitting.”
“If the county wants to do that, then they should pay Harold for what they did to him,” Gilleon said. “They are trying to paint an image of an older gay man with a young boy around him, and it’s all meant to extract money out of the county.
“This is a money grab and Harold’s the one that got harmed so they should give that money to him” he added.
If the county decides not to settle the claims filed by Roberts’ former staffers, the women can then file lawsuits. The four other supervisors have already said the county should not be liable.
Meza’s lawsuit is not against the county or Roberts.
Porter’s attorney did not respond to multiple phone messages seeking comment.