A statewide law enforcement group is calling on state Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate the role Orange County Public Administrator/Guardian John Williams’ office in the firing of Todd Spitzer from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas fired Spitzer — one of his top assistant district attorneys and possible successor — after Spitzer inquired into allegations about how a case was being handled by Williams’ office.
The firing was highly controversial, and many in Orange County government and politics feel it was politically motivated. And many are questioning Williams’ unusually public role in the firing, which found him sending out a Saturday news release announcing his concerns about Spitzer.
Since his weekend news release, Williams has declined to comment on the Spitzer situation, saying it involves a personnel issue.
But it now looks like he’ll have to talk to someone about it.
The California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations today wrote to Chief Deputy James Humes at the Attorney General’s Office, asking him to launch a probe that focuses on Williams’ office.
The group is openly questioning whether Spitzer essentially bumped into a major issue and got fired for checking it out.
“What has transpired in the last week has the real potential of sending a chilling effect to concerned citizens who rely on the public guardian to look out for their rights,” said Wayne Quint, who is president of the statewide group representing 80,000 law enforcement officers as well as the local deputies union, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.
“Our members are deeply concerned that the health, welfare and financial interests of present conservatees and those presently under investigation are in jeopardy,” Quint wrote.
Others have speculated that Spitzer was essentially forced out as an heir-apparent in 2014 to pave the way for a run by Rackauckas’ chief of staff, Susan Kang Schroeder.
District Attorney’s Office officials have said they will not comment on the Spitzer firing unless he releases them from a confidentiality agreement.
The coalition is worried about more than a confidentiality agreement; it is worried about a possible conflict of interest because Rackauckas’ fiancée is the second-in-command at the Public Administrator/Guardian’s Office.
“We cannot refer this case to the District Attorney who clearly has a conflict of interest because of his personal relationship with a high ranking administrator in the public guardian’s office and because the District Attorney cannot investigate the propriety of his own conduct in this matter.”
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.