Orange County to Fight Voice of OC Public Records Suit

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Orange County supervisors voted in closed session this week to fight a public records lawsuit by Voice of OC seeking government emails related to Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s controversial citizen’s arrest of a man at a Wahoo’s restaurant last April.

The lawsuit demands the release of emails between Spitzer and county spokeswoman Jean Pasco regarding the incident, including a public statement that Spitzer apparently wanted sent to the media. Pasco never sent the statement.

In early March, Voice of OC reporter Adam Elmahrek filed a Public Records Act request for the emails as part of his research for a story about Spitzer successfully pressuring the Orange County Register to change its online article about the incident.

The county declined to release the records, citing exemptions in the records law for preliminary drafts and “pre-decisional documents…subject to the deliberative process privilege.”

Voice of OC then filed a Public Records Act lawsuit, seeking a court order requiring the county to release the records. The lawsuit argues that the records sought by the news organization are not covered by any exemptions and must be released.

(Click here to read Voice of OC’s lawsuit seeking the emails.)

The county declined to comment this week on the case.

Voice of OC’s publisher, Norberto Santana, Jr., says the case cuts to the core of the public’s right to know about what happens in their government.

“County of Orange officials – led by Supervisor Spitzer – are arguing that without an ability to operate in total secrecy, local government as we know it would grind to a halt,” Santana said. “We believe it is vitally important to our democracy to challenge that assertion.”

The supervisors’ decision to fight the suit will require Voice of OC to spend thousands of dollars to pursue the case in court.

To help fund this effort, the news agency is accepting donations through an online donation campaign at Generosity.com.

(Click here to visit the donate page and for more info on supporting the lawsuit.)

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. He can be reached at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.

  • Paul Lucas

    This will cost the taxpayers a few pretty pennies when ts all said and done. I wish there was a way to hold those in Governent accountable for these types of costly battles.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Wow, Batman! I made my donation to the cause! Do I get a nifty decoder ring or maybe a Todd Spritzer Funko Pop? Neeto, cool, dude!

  • Jacki Livingston

    Let me get this straight, Norberto…you are begging readers for money to get records of something so stupid? But when a box of the same kinds of records are sent to you for free, you don’t read or acknowledge them, when they address actual proof of true and real wrongdoing? Why should anyone give you a nickel? You don’t really want actual evidence, you just want to measure you, ahem, byeline against Toddy’s. This makes both of you officially a tool.

  • John Claxton

    Collusion with the whole gang of 5 to protect one of their own. If we hold them accountable, politics as we know it, would cease to exist.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    Support the VOC on this totally. Clearly, Spitzer has something to hide. He should be embarrassed. He should do a full blown public apology. His behavior would have landed anyone else in jail or a 72 hour 51/50. His behavior and actions were dangerous, illogical and could have resulted in a disaster. Yes, he is fortunate HE did not hurt anyone. The coverup of this mess is inexcusable. What an irony, we the taxpayers are funding Todd’s coverup of this incident. When are people gonna get what a hypocritical thin skinned fraud Spitzer was, is and will be forever?

    • David Zenger

      But, wait! Don’t you remember how “incredibly proud” he was of his actions? And how he got all dewy-eyed and choked up thinking about the possible mayhem Bible Boy might have perpetrated with his serrated knife on all that tilapia?

      Well, sure, that was after he couldn’t hush it up any longer…

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        That was a farce as we know so well. Todd Spitzer man of fear – do not look at him and then glance at a plastic knife – he will be all over that! Our mock storybook “hero”. Such a joke.

    • Jacki Livingston

      This is such a tempest in a teapot. He would rather you be watching this, instead of his illegal and unethical use of two judges, to help keep him from testifying under oath. He is being investigated by the State judicial administration and all anyone sees or hears is this big pile of nothing. Lord, but it is easy to dupe the people of the OC. Ridiculously easy.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        So we are all being duped? I don’t think so – he pulled a gun on an innocent person, I think I will notice that and pay attention.

        • Jacki Livingston

          And while you are looking at this, you won’t notice that he used his relationship with not one, but TWO, judges, unethically, to avoid being questioned under oath about fiscal misconduct. Do you think that it is a coincidence that the state referred the matter to judicial administration investigators? The fast food frolic is old news, Kathleen. The other could get him disbarred. Hard to be DA when you lose your license to practice law. Wanna see the letters from the State? Interesting reading.

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Do share w/ the VOC – I say the more exposure the better. Since Toddy blithers on about transparacy put him to the test!

  • Rich Olquin

    Somehow Todd always rises to the top, above the fray in the end. “Teflon Todd”…save your money, Adam…

    • Jacki Livingston

      And now two judges will pay, instead of Todd, on his latest unethical scam.

  • Paul Lucas

    yeah, I dont see anywhere how this email exchange should be kept secret. Take your lumps, learn from it. and move on would be my advice.

  • LFOldTimer

    If a high-ranking elected political figure is throwing his weight around to edit newspaper reports meant for public consumption that involve his questionable public behavior and alleged coverups – it seems to me that the public should have access to whatever documents exist that fully describe what took place.

    Elected officials voluntarily step into the spotlight. If you don’t want public scrutiny – don’t be a politician. Go sell life insurance.

    If VOC didn’t pursue this it would be more dirt swept under the rug.

    • Jacki Livingston

      They already sweep dirt for Spitzie. Everyone is staring at this stupid stunt, and no one is seeing the corruption and illegal, unethical scam that Toddy IS actually being investigated for by the state. All VOC is doing is playing a game of “find the lady” on Spritzer’s behalf. Wonder how much laundered money Todd had to give them for being his schill?

  • David Zenger

    Well, there you have it. Us versus them.

    The really fun part is one of Wonderdog’s colleague’s ratted him out on this. And I know which one.

    Hook ’em up, Todd.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Thank you VOC for challenging the County’s Organized Crime Gang of Five.

    They will LOSE the case.

    The taxpayers do not want to pay for the gun-toting Supervisor’s antics and another County cover up.