An auditor working for the Los Angeles City Controller’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the office, alleging her supervisor discouraged her from closely examining some Department of Water and Power contracts, including one that is part of an FBI investigation.
According to the Los Angeles Superior Court retaliation complaint, Beth Kennedy, who was hired as a special investigator in 2003, alleges she was instructed by a supervisor to “not be as thorough” with her DWP audit, with the supervisor mentioning the death in May 2019 of a “DWP whistleblower.”
She also claims there was a break-in at her home in June 2019, hours after she and her staff had questioned DWP managers about the handling of some of its contracts. Her frustrations led her to resign this summer, the suit states.
A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office said the department had no comment on the case filed Monday.
Two contracts Kennedy said were of particular concern were with the companies Aventador and Ardent, which are linked to an attorney believed to be at the center of the FBI investigation. She said the contracts were being handled differently than other such contracts with the DWP and that the Controller’s Office had ignored complaints about the contracts since 2017.
Kennedy is seeking unspecified damages. She did not detail the damage amounts, but said she had to hire experts to secure her home and that she and her family have been traumatized by the break-in.
Kennedy is still employed by the Controller’s Office, officials said.
FBI agents served search warrants at the downtown headquarters of the DWP and City Hall East in July 2019 as part of a probe into the city’s handling of litigation and a settlement over the botched rollout of a DWP billing system.
The warrants were for documents of several city employees at City Hall East and DWP offices, including some staff members of the City Attorney’s Office.
Kennedy alleges that in retaliation for engaging in “protected activity” by speaking out about her concerns, she was removed from her managerial role and her staff was taken away. She also maintains she was put on administrative leave and assigned to home as well as subjected to ostracism and bullying.
“As a result of these intolerable work conditions, on July 20 … Kennedy tendered her resignation … effective Aug. 11 … citing the continued discrimination, harassment and retaliation that she had endured over the last three years,” the suit states.