Anyone who might be thinking that Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and former Assistant District Attorney Todd Spitzer have moved beyond their ugly political battles of the recent past should think again.
Spitzer, who is now running for the 3rd District supervisorial seat, this week accused DA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder and Senior Assistant District Attorney Bill Feccia of using the DA’s office to coordinate with Deb Pauly, his opponent in the supervisors race.
It apparently started on Jan. 20, when Spitzer’s campaign released a media advisory announcing his appearance at a candidates’ forum against Pauly. The initial advisory erroneously listed Spitzer as a current instead of a former assistant district attorney. Within an hour, the campaign corrected the mistake and released a new media advisory.
Spitzer says he has an email confirmation showing Schroeder opened the corrected email by lunchtime on the day it was sent.
Nonetheless, Spitzer says, Schroeder set about writing a letter to Spitzer, upbraiding him for using a title that was no longer his. Then Pauly got a copy of Schroeder’s letter through the California Public Records Act and used it at the candidate’s forum on Jan. 23, a full day before the official postmark shows it was sent to Spitzer.
Spitzer, in a letter sent to Rackauckas on Wednesday, said Schroeder’s writing of the letter and its release to Pauly was a blatant, ham-fisted illegal effort to use the DA’s office to influence the campaign.
“She ignored the correction, wrote a libelous letter, tipped off my opponent to the letter and then intentionally mailed it after it could be used in the first candidate’s forum where indeed, my opponent produced the letter, which had not yet even been mailed to me until the following day,” Spitzer wrote.
“It is my expectation that as the District Attorney of Orange County you will commit that campaign and political activity from your office will not be allowed.”
Spitzer, once an heir apparent to Rackauckas, was fired abruptly last year after making inquiries into the case management of Public Administrator John Williams.
Williams, who employed Rackackaus’ then-fiance Peggi Buff, lodged the initial complaint abgout Spitzer’s inquiries last year. Last year, Williams agreed to resign his post this January. When Williams’ Jan. 23 resignation date arrived and county officials locked his office, he tried unsuccessfully to have a judge force the county to restore his job.
Pauly, a Villa Park councilwoman and vice chairwoman of the Orange County Republican Party, stepped in to run against Spitzer for county supervisor after former Assemblyman Chuck DeVore bowed out of the race and moved to Texas for a job.
Schroeder and Pauly both say they never spoke to each other prior about her request for the Spitzer letter.
“She’s not the one that told me,” Pauly said. “Three different people throughout Orange County that I trust told me that Todd was under investigation.”
“I just wrote to the DA saying I want any letter you wrote during the past week,” Pauly said. “I just assumed I would get something informing him he was under investigation for fraud.”
Schroeder said she is not “doing any political activity” and disputed all of Spitzer’s allegations. She said his letter to Rackauckas showed “he’s mentally unstable and unfit to serve. … He’s got everything wrong factually. This is vintage Todd … ready, fire, aim.”
Schroeder said she received a complaint from a third person about Spitzer’s media advisory listing his title as a current assistant district attorney.
“This is exactly what he does,” Schroeder said. “He uses the fact that the was an assistant DA to advance his campaign.”
Schroeder went on to say that “the fact that I wrote a letter to Todd Spitzer saying stop misusing your title like you have in the past is not a campaign for Deb Pauly.”