What Happened With Spitzer’s Order on Financial Interest Disclosures?

The order was clear.

In March, Orange County supervisors’ Chairman Todd Spitzer wanted to get down to the nitty-gritty of who among county employees are supposed to file financial disclosures, known as Form 700s, but aren’t.

Specifically, he directed County Counsel Nick Chrisos’ office to “conduct a comprehensive review of every county department to ensure that the Form 700 filing code for each department includes all the positions that should be included.”

The state’s Political Reform Act requires that lists of Form 700 filers include any county job where the worker is involved in decisions that could affect his or her outside financial interests, and therefore perhaps be a conflict of interest.

If their job is on the list of filers, officials usually have to list their outside income, real estate ownership, stocks and other financial interests. About 2,400 of the county’s roughly 18,000 employees are currently required to file form 700s, with the positions ranging from department executives to computer technicians to an executive secretary.

Spitzer’s order came soon after Voice of OC revealed that District Attorney Tony Rackauckas wasn’t including his chief of staff, Susan Kang Schroeder, on the list of employees who have to disclose.

For years, Rackauckas — who along with Schroeder is a bitter political foe of Spitzer’s — didn’t require Schroeder to file the disclosures, despite a job description that includes advising the DA on high-profile criminal cases.

Schroeder ultimately filed disclosures after Chrisos’ office suggested that fines be levied against her if she doesn’t file.

Fast forward four months from the March meeting, and Chrisos is coming back to the Board of Supervisors with an update on the directive.

But in his staff report for Tuesday’s supervisors meeting, the “comprehensive review” that Spitzer ordered is nowhere to be found.

Instead, there is a one-sentence statement from Chrisos that describes the directive as an order to “provide recommendations to your Board regarding the review and approval process of conflict of interest codes and code amendments of local government agencies.”

In essence, Chrisos asked department heads to give him their word that they’re following state law when it comes to determining who has to file a Form 700, but apparently did not provide the detailed rundown that Spitzer asked for.

Through a county spokeswoman, Chrisos’ office declined Monday to explain what came of that order.

“My understanding is that whatever is going to be said will be said at the meeting” on Tuesday, the spokeswoman, Ruth Wardwell, said via email.

For his part, Spitzer did not return Voice of OC’s calls regarding whether he is satisfied with the response.

However, when he issued the directive Spitzer made it clear that he was more than a little concerned that he and his board colleagues are responsible for approving the lists but have no idea whether they’re properly including all the positions they should.

“It’s literally coming to us without a review by legal. So we’re literally on our own,” which is “very scary,” Spitzer said when giving his directive on March 3.

He didn’t mention Schroeder specifically, rather pointing to examples like an effort to lower the disclosure requirements for “significant executives” at the county’s public healthcare plan, CalOptima.

“I just feel like this is a sleeping giant that’s gonna kick us in the head one day,” Spitzer said.  “I hate the words ‘I didn’t know.’ ”

You can contact Nick Gerda at ngerda@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • Nick. I agree with your observation. I was out at the fire in my district yesterday. Sorry for the lack of update. We reviewed my handwritten directive with County Counsel yesterday to go over the issues I outlined as described in your piece. The item is continued for County Counsel to either take another stab at it or tell the Board why it can’t comply. Todd Spitzer, BOS Third District.

    • David Zenger

      There are a lot of fires hereabout. They’ll kick ya in the head every time.

      • Kathleen Tahilramani

        Mr. See I was out watching the fire serving the citizens Spitzer, seems to long to constantly explain how he “wants to know”. What a fabrication – if he really wanted to know, Giancola would have NEVER been the CEO. But the BOS needed a simple tool at the time to do their dirty work. So, they put their collective heads in the sand..Spitzer knew about Giancola -but he ignored it……

        • David Zenger

          Aw, give the kid a break. when you are a megalomanical media hound you follow potential disasters around waiting for a media interview. I’ll never forget the comical and endless Chris Dorner interview – IN ANOTHER COUNTY.

          The funniest Todd story I heard (and there were a lot of them) was the one told by Steve Spernak: one day Todd, up in his office in Building 10, spots a CBS news van parked down on Broadway. Spitzer dispatches Spernak down there to let the media know that Supervisor Todd has a statement to make about whateverthehell is going on!

          • Kathleen Tahilramani

            Wow – I guess any publicity even if it is moronic is good.Todd – it’s quality NOT quantity.

          • Debby Bodkin

            Mr. Zenger. I am not sure why you are so determined to publicly slam Mr. Spitzer repeatedly. Are you on DA Rackauckas and Susan Kang Schroeder’s backroom quid pro quo payroll?

            At least Mr. Spitzer has the backbone to attempt to respond to concerns at this public website, unlike others that are NEVER publicly called out by you. You claim to be an expert, with inside knowledge, but yet, you seem to have quite a bit of information that an “outsider’ should not have now that you are not employed by the County of Orange.

            *Rackauckas ENABLED Susan Kang Schroeder to escape disclosing financial disclosures since 2010.
            *Rackauckas violated the law.
            *Schroeder violated the law.
            *County Counsel allowed the violations of the law,

            Anything Mr Spitzer addresses relating to Rackauckas or Kang Schroeder will be twisted into defamation and retaliation–they will do anything to keep Spitzer from becoming the next DA. Everyone knows TRack’s and Kang Schroeder’s repeated patterns since 2010. Are you being paid to assist them with their dirty backroom political deeds? It is very suspicious that you suddenly become an advocate for two persons that have violated the civil rights of more individuals than anyone can possible begin to count.

          • OCservant_Leader

            Interesting theory. It makes sense. These drawn out fake battles between family is ridiculous.

            Just like a story board in Hollywood – they all act their parts.

            I have never believed the story line that Spitzer is an outsider / crusader who will take the corrupt DA down but rather they are teammates playing for the same coach. Each has a role. Each gets their time in the sun. One will cover for the other.

            They are building “pretend” fights so the public will think they are getting something different than the same corrupt system in place.

            Regarding the Kang-Schroeder divorce and statute of limitations? – oh yea that’s it! You nailed this scam!

            Thanks for the info. It will hopefully help the Feds understand how sophisticated the GOP corruption ring in OC really is. Wow.

          • David Zenger

            “Mr. Zenger. I am not sure why you are so determined to publicly slam Mr. Spitzer repeatedly.”

            Because he needs public slamming. In fact he will soon feature prominently in an essay on ethics in OC government I am writing for Voice of OC.

            I am on nobody’s payroll but my own, and I share your disgust with the Good as No DA DA and his little helper. But in my world you can be disgusted and appalled at both Spitzer and Kang as possible DA candidates.

            P.S. I have never voted for Rackaukas. I actually gave some money to his opponent Wally Wade in 2002, something that I rarely do. Please aim your anger at the panoply of OC luminaries who endorse Rackaukas again and again.

  • David Zenger

    “I hate the words ‘I didn’t know.’ ”

    Oh, baloney. There’s enough going on that Todd doesn’t know about to make a whole new County.

    What he hates, what they all hate, is learning something that they have to act upon. That’s when it gets really dicey. See, knowledge confers responsibility upon the ethical person, and there is no bigger troop of people who spend their careers dodging responsibility than the “leaders” of rudder-less Orange County government.

    • Zenger. Your argument is illogical. I am trying to get the information so the BOS can properly act. How can we legislatively be required to approve all disclosure categories and positions and not have proper insight into the actual employee and categories that should be covered? You argue the BOS doesn’t want to know which is patently inaccurate.

      • David Zenger

        My “argument” as you choose to call it, was to point out the comical hypocrisy of you claiming to be terrified of not knowing something – an assertion that is patently absurd. You and your colleagues want plausible deniability in all things – otherwise you might have to do the right thing.

        I actually read this post. Did you? If you really were serious about this, then how come Chrisos didn’t do what you asked, and how come the public doesn’t get to know who (if anyone) hasn’t been reporting as required.

        So far as I can tell this little episode is nothing more than an attempt to make Susan Schroeder look bad, and of course your continued and manic scramble to confuse ethics with legal reporting requirements.

        Anyway thanks for reading what I had to say.

        • Kathleen Tahilramani

          Ba Bam – nicely done Mr.Z.

        • KateD

          Game, set, match. Spitzer goes down in flames as the tiny crowd roars. Well played, Mr. Z…but then, that isn’t a huge achievement, given the opposition. 😛

      • KateD

        Really? Would that mean that the BoS actually DOES want to know when abuse, crime, fraud and other inconvenient truth happens? Because that has not been proven by the evidence. The evidence actually shows that if any employee of the County DARES to report some of the most vile, unconscionable, disgusting criminal conduct within the County agencies, you and your ‘gangofive’ not only ignore it, but you then instruct your minions to purposefully destroy the career and reputation of those who had the courage to speak while others stayed silent. I admit, you aren’t as bad as T-Rack, who had the evidence in his hands, but your slick, sleazy used car salesman scam won’t fool those of us paying attention.

    • OCservant_Leader

      Zenger – careful you are revealing their game plan…kick the ball back and forth (CoCo – DA- CEO -BOS) until they find soft landing for who ever the media has caught onto then back to business as usual.

      The executive from Health Care -Dr. Chou – who was responsible for choosing pharmaceuticals to prescribe to the unsuspecting OC mentally ill – was collecting large checks from the pharmaceutical company’s $100 Million annual OC HCA contract.

      Dr – that is a no – no. He is a champion of treating the mentally ill? Yet he gained financially from the drug companies so he could pour more money into his restaurants he ran while he was County head psychiatrist? That is sick.

      But that didn’t stop him nor the other health care executives (compliance) from covering the ball -“he didn’t know he had to fill out the form” to – “he didn’t know how to fill out the form ” to – oh “we didn’t know we had to READ the forms ” to “he got promoted to Cal-Optima” whoops that’s still County government …time to move to LA. -Next.

      Exact same game plan as DA Schroeder is using. I suspect that’s why her divorce from handler was beneficial. (although I will admit the story of her flying in private jets to county penthouse in Vegas with new band sounds intriguing.)

      Bottom line-they believe as the OC Elite -they are above the law.

      Connecting the dots – to how their corruption impacts the citizens will help build case for recalling entire BOS.

      • David Zenger

        “Zenger – careful you are revealing their game plan…kick the ball back
        and forth (CoCo – DA- CEO -BOS) until they find soft landing for who
        ever the media has caught onto then back to business as usual.”

        Yep. There is hardly a single issue that isn’t gotten rid of through the drawn out “pass the parcel” technique.

        In this case the whole “I’m so scared” routine about Form 700 filers became a moot issue once Susan Schroeder was forced to file. After that the thing went behind the scenes where CoCo was likely told not to produce any real names. And If there weren’t any to produce, why hide the fact? You’d think they would want everybody to know how squeaky clean the operation is.

  • KateD

    Ah, Toddykins…you clueless hunk of bologna. If common sense were dynamite, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose, cupcake.