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Orange County-Based Law Firm Tops SANDAG Investigation List

SANDAG board members sit around their meeting table, June 24, 2016.
Katie Schoolov
SANDAG board members sit around their meeting table, June 24, 2016.

Newport Beach-based law firm Hueston Hennigan LLP has emerged as the favored candidate to conduct an investigation into a scandal surrounding the San Diego Association of Governments and the failed tax measure it placed on last year's ballot.

SANDAG board members voted last month to commission the investigation, which is meant to uncover who knew about economic forecasting errors that led to inflated projections of how much money the tax would raise. Three board members — Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole — then formed a subcommittee to review applicants for the investigation.

RELATED: Seven Firms Competing For SANDAG Investigation Contract


Awarding the contract to Hueston Hennigan would cost $125,000, which would come from SANDAG's contingency reserve. The price was higher than other competing applicants, some of which are based in San Diego. But cost was not weighted as heavily as a firm's qualifications and experience in the selection process.

SANDAG posted portions of the seven applications it received to its website Monday evening, along with their ranking, but did not include how each applicant scored.

In its statement of qualifications and experience, Hueston Hennigan said its partner and proposed lead investigator, John Hueston, had completed "a series of successful investigations of municipal corruption" that had "uncovered breakdowns in good governance practices." It also included a report the firm conducted on San Bernardino County Assessor Bill Postmus, who left office in 2009 amid a drug scandal.

SANDAG's executive committee is scheduled to review the contract award on Friday and make a recommendation to the full board of directors. The full board could then award the contract at its meeting later in the day or put a decision off to its next meeting.