District Attorney Tony Rackauckas Monday quashed the release of a politically explosive letter sent to the Orange County Board of Supervisors by an attorney representing Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodaidis, who abruptly went on a medical leave in the wake of sex crimes charges against former county Public Works executive Carlos Bustamante.
“Both the CEO [Tom Mauk] and county counsel [Nick Chrisos] have said the letter cannot be released because the district attorney doesn’t want it released,” said board Chairman John Moorlach in response to a public records request by Voice of OC.
Rackauckas spokeswoman Susan Kang Schroeder declined to comment on the move, saying “I wouldn’t comment on any request that would have been made. I can’t comment.”
Drakodaidis put herself on leave last week just as Public Works Director Jess Carbajal was fired for his handling of allegations that Bustamante, who is also a Santa Ana city councilman, sexually terrorized at least seven women who worked for him. Rackauckas has charged Bustamante with 12 felonies, including six counts of false imprisonment, three of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense and one each of stalking and sexual battery by restraint.
According to sources who have seen the letter, Drakodaidis, who supervised both Bustamante and Carbajal, alleges that members of the Board of Supervisors have been meddling in contracts and using their influence to secure spots within the county bureaucracy for their staff aides.
Sources indicate the letter also alleges that Rackaucakas pursued the Bustamante case because he is angry with Mauk over the CEO’s handling of issues regarding Public Administrator John Williams, who employed Rackauckas’ fiancee Peggi Buff.
County officials have resisted releasing the letter since Friday.
Terry Francke, general counsel for the open-government advocacy group Californians Aware and an open-records consultant to Voice of OC, said the letter is clearly a public document resembling a public claim addressed to county supervisors and sent from an attorney.
Beyond the Drakodaidis situation is talk that CEO Tom Mauk might face firing over his handling of the matter. Supervisors are scheduled to continue a closed-session discussion about Mauk’s future on July 24.
The Bustamante case seems to have many in county government nervous.
Last Tuesday, just after Carbajal was fired, Supervisor Bill Campbell went to visit Rackauckas personally.
“Not that I wanted to be telling him what to do but just to make sure there was anything I should be aware of,” Campbell said. “All he said was the investigation continues,” Campbell added. “I didn’t pry either.”
Supervisor Shawn Nelson didn’t return a call seeking comment on the letter’s release, and Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who was traveling in Washington, D.C., said she hadn’t taken part in the county counsel briefing and couldn’t comment.
Supervisor Pat Bates, who was criticized in the letter sent by Drakodaidis, also acknowledged the direction given by the district attorney and said she couldn’t comment.
But Bates did defend herself.
“At the point in time I’m able to discuss this, I’m very comfortable that I will be able to respond to any questions about my conduct, and I’ll be able to answer those to the public’s satisfaction,” Bates said about the allegations. “I’m not in any way troubled, because they are so far off.”
Regarding Mauk’s future, Bates, who has been called the swing vote on the CEO’s fate, said: “It’s a work in progress. I’m waiting for responses to our concerns to be discussed at the personnel discussion at our July 24 meeting. There were a number of questions that we’re waiting for Tom on, about who knew and who reported and what should have been done.”
— NORBERTO SANTANA JR.
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