Long Beach investigating city auditor over whistleblower complaint

Long Beach is investigating an internal whistleblower complaint filed against longtime City Auditor Laura Doud, the city said in a statement Friday.

The city did not describe the nature of the allegations, but sources who were not authorized to speak publicly said the complaint accuses Doud of using more than $1 million in city funds to pay a public affairs consulting firm for undisclosed reasons.

“In response to the complaint, the Office of the City Attorney is conducting an independent outside investigation to determine the facts and respond appropriately to the complaint filed,” the city said in a statement. “At this time, no additional information is available as the investigation is underway.”

Through her attorney, Doud said the accusations in the complaint are false. Doud is “working diligently with the appropriate parties to ensure that the truth comes out,” her lawyer, Kate Corrigan, in a statement Friday said

“She is actively cooperating with the City of Long Beach and with its independent investigation of the false accusations leveled against her and her office,” Corrigan said. “She looks forward to these issues being resolved in a timely manner.”

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that it has also received a complaint that is being reviewed by the office’s Public Integrity Division, which has yet to decide whether to launch an investigation.

The whistleblower complaint comes as Doud, who was first elected in 2006, is running for a fifth term in the city’s primary election on June 7. A Long Beach native, she is one of only a handful of independently elected city auditors in California.

Despite being a fixture in Long Beach government, Doud made headlines last year when she broke ranks with most other city officials by releasing an audit that was critical of the city’s oversight of $23 million in Queen Mary repair projects. Her nearly two-year investigation found that Long Beach failed to properly oversee urgent repairs for the Queen Mary, leading to excessive subcontractor markups, overpayment for some work and unnecessary projects.

The city manager’s office has defended Long Beach’s handling of the historic ship and the decision in 2016 to provide $23 million in bonds and Tidelands funds to former operator Urban Commons for 27 urgent projects. The money ran out before most projects were finished and the operator later declared bankruptcy, leaving a string of lawsuits and debt.

In an interview with the Post last year, Doud said the city should have had stronger oversight over how Urban Commons was spending the money because they were public funds.

“When the city has provided the funding, it’s the city management’s responsibility to ensure the funding is being used as agreed upon,” she said.

How Long Beach leaders charted a disastrous course for the Queen Mary

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Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].
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