Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer confirmed Monday he would run for district attorney in hopes of unseating his former boss, Tony Rackauckas.
The announcement was not unexpected.
Spitzer, who was once being groomed as Rackauckas’ successor, had a falling-out with his old boss seven years ago and they have been feuding politically ever since.
Rackauckas said in October 2010 that he fired Spitzer because he believed he bullied staffers and had other ethical lapses.
A former employee of Spitzer’s, Christine Richters, is suing the county and her ex-boss, alleging discrimination on the basis of a disability, harassment of a disabled employee, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation, failure to pay for all hours worked and failure to pay overtime wages.
Richters contends she was “required daily to be available at all hours, causing her to work up to 24-hour shifts but, when broken down by hour, was not compensated for each hour of work in the amount required by federal law.” She claims Spitzer issued a memo to staff demanding that his text messages be returned within 15 minutes.
In announcing his candidacy, Spitzer returned fire with his own corruption allegations.
“I refuse to stand by as Tony Rackauckas destroys the District Attorney’s Office and uses it as his own personal fiefdom for he and his cronies while the public’s safety suffers,” Spitzer said in a statement issued by his campaign. “We must restore faith and trust in our law enforcement and justice system.”
Spitzer said he would not accept any endorsements from area politicians.
“The D.A. must be impartial and beholden to no one,” Spitzer said.
Spitzer noted that the former head of the office’s investigations unit, Craig Hunter, accused the incumbent of prosecuting some political leaders while letting some friends slide.
“Rackauckas has been in office for 20 years,” Spitzer said. “This breeds corruption, complacency and a public failure of leadership.”
Spitzer claimed that crime rates have “skyrocketed 23 percent in 2015 and there are over three times as many crimes per square mile just in Santa Ana as the rest of California, where shootings alone are up 556 percent since 2012.”
Spitzer said he has $1.2 million in cash in his campaign, compared to $44,844 for Rackauckas.
The county’s top prosecutor disputed that figure.
“We certainly have more than $44,000,” Rackauckas told City News Service.
The county’s top prosecutor brushed off Spitzer’s criticism.
“It’s not news that he’s decided to go ahead and make this announcement.” Rackauckas said, adding that Spitzer’s allegations of corruption are “certainly not unexpected. These are the kinds of allegations he’s been making and will continue to make.”
Spitzer is “jealous” of Rackauckas’ position and has made allegations that he knows to be untrue, the D.A. said.
“He’s in a place to know that these allegations are not true, but he makes them anyway for political reasons,” Rackauckas said.
The incumbent has been rocked by allegations of corruption, particularly in the case against the worst mass killer in Orange County’s history, Scott Dekraai. Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, who recused Rackauckas’ office from the case and was upheld by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, is holding a third round of evidentiary hearings to determine if the death penalty should be removed as a sentencing option. The Attorney General’s Office is now prosecuting the case.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal found “systemic” corruption in the handling of jailhouse informant cases as the main reason that Dekraai could not get a fair shake from the District Attorney’s Office. Dekraai’s attorneys have argued that in multiple cases involving informants, the defendants in the jails were illegally questioned by the snitches.
As a result of the Dekraai allegations, prosecutors have had to cut deals with killers, who had their sentences dramatically shortened or were set free with time served in custody.
A recent Orange County Grand Jury report, however, declared that the notion that there has been systemic corruption in the use of informants is a “myth.”
Along with Hunter’s legal claim, two other District Attorney’s investigators also alleged corruption in Rackauckas’ office and claimed they were being harassed because they were whistleblowers.
— City News Service