L.A. City Controller Subpoenas 3 Cell Phone Companies

Wendy Greuel in 2009. | Photo: David Markland/Flickr/Creative Commons License

City Controller Wendy Greuel said today she subpoenaed three cell phone companies and accused them of failing to comply with repeated requests to turn over five years of city cell phone bills.

Greuel said she employed the rarely used power after AT&T Mobility, T- Mobile, and Sprint Nextel Corp. declined her requests or asked for extensions over a period of several months. Verizon handed over the requested bills last week, the controller said.

Press Conference Sparks Political Attack
In reaction to Greuel's press conference, a representative for Councilmember Eric Garcetti's mayoral campaign sent out a zinger of a statement."It shouldn't take an election for Ms. Greuel to finally get serious about finishing her incomplete audit from May 2011," said Jeff Millman. "We've had four years of a press release Controller, and L.A. cannot afford a press release Mayor."It didn't take long for Greuel's campaign to respond, calling it a "baseless attack.""Eric Garcetti's attack is factually incorrect and an example of political opportunism at its worst. Today's audit was a critical follow up to a 2011 audit which was already completed. Unfortunately, under Eric Garcetti's presidency, the City Council was asleep at the wheel while millions of dollars were wasted," said John Shallman. "It's always convenient for those in power to try to kill the messenger when there's been abuse of taxpayer money."~ Zach Behrens, KCET-TV

Greuel, who is running for mayor, said copies of the bills are necessary to complete a larger investigation into whether the companies performed contractual duties to analyze the city's phone bills for ways to save money.

"Today, I am sending a clear message that stall tactics will not be tolerated," Greuel said during a morning news conference. "It's absurd that businesses doing business with the city of Los Angeles want to deny the city's access to cell phone bills. I urge AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel to hand over the those bills and stop acting as though they have something to hide.

"These are our bills. There should be no reason that we would not receive them," Greuel added.

Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh said the company has been providing Greuel's office with information since an initial request in September. "In light of our extensive research, effort, and cooperation with the L.A. City Controller's office over the past months, we're disappointed that they have decided to file a subpoena," Vinge Walsh said. "We are also disappointed that their press release suggests that we have not provided them information."