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June 2, 2016

District Attorney Retaliates Against Todd Spitzer for Fighting for Ethics Reform

Statement from Supervisor Todd Spitzer

District Attorney Tony Rackauckas jeopardized any remaining shred of credibility his office may still have by hastily summoning the press corps to falsely accuse me of impersonating a position I once held in the District Attorney’s Office during a robo call in support of Measure A, an initiative placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors, that creates a long overdue campaign finance and ethics commission.

Only the District Attorney is confused because his motive is utterly political and personal. I clearly started the Measure A call with, “Hello, this is COUNTY SUPERVISOR Todd Spitzer,” unequivocally stating my current position as a County Supervisor. Within seconds, I went on to say, “I have always played by the rules.  As an Assistant District Attorney, I know that many politicians do not….”

No one is confused by the fact that I am now a County Supervisor having once served as an Assistant District Attorney, except a politically motivated Rackauckas.  In fact, he endorsed Harry Sidu for the State Assembly 68th District, who states in his own ballot statement, “Harry’s experience includes: Mayor and City Councilman…….” Harry Sidu is no longer a member of the Anaheim City Council, yet he still uses the present tense and the District Attorney has not questioned his endorsed candidate, Mr. Sidu.

I was attacked by the District Attorney in retaliation for a press release I issued last week revealing the Grand Jury calling out Tony Rackauckas’ “inability to follow the rules by playing political favorites,” as the County’s Public Administrator.  In that release, I retell the facts of the downfall of the prior Public Administrator/Public Guardian’s Office under the control of John Williams and his Executive Manager Peggi Buff, then girlfriend (and now wife) to Tony Rackauckas.  This press conference and thinly veiled accusation is nothing more than payback for my exposing the corruption in the PA/PG’s Office when I was an Assistant District Attorney in 2010.  My phone call, leading to my termination the very next day, contributed to the unwinding of the William’s and Buff administration. Buff’s transfer to another County department and job reclassification (from Executive Manager to Administrative Manager I) resulted in the loss of executive manager pay, 401(c) contribution match, car allowance, and optional benefit plan changes.  Rackauckas is apparently still vindictive to this day.  Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff, admitted later to the press that she coordinated Williams’ press release about my phone call from her vacation in Hawaii after she initially represented she had no involvement, revealing her intent to sabotage my career in the District Attorney’s Office at her earliest opportunity.  We all know now that this was the Rackauckas/Schroeder plot from the beginning.

Fortunately, the public saw through this travesty of injustice and overwhelmingly brought me back to the Board of Supervisors so that I could work to develop independent oversight of the District Attorney and all other justice partners, including, among other reforms, adopting the Office of Independent Review.  As a result, many issues have now come to light which are prompting the Rackauckas retaliatory responses.

Just last week, I uncovered that Rackauckas did not report financial donations by anonymous donors totaling $35,000 as required by law (Behested Payment Report, Form 803,, instead directing money through an unsuspecting crime victims’ services contractor, Community Services Program (CSP) who reported to the Board of Supervisors that this would never happen again and that CSP did not participate or solicit the $35,000 in question.  All fundraising activities were promoted directly by the District Attorney with Susan Kang Schroeder as the fundraising contact person.

In January, I brought the scathing issues raised in the OCDA Informant Policies and Practices Evaluation Committee Report (IPPEC) to the Board of Supervisors for review.  The IPPEC Report conducted by the DA’s own selected and paid for committee, concluded that the OCDA’s Office “functions as a ship without a rudder” and that there are “significant issues within the OCDA’s Office in the areas of training, supervision, and overall culture.  There is an immediate need for stronger leadership, training, supervision, mentoring, and oversight to change the culture.” Indeed, a recommendation by District Attorney personnel interviewed by the committee with near unanimity (one dissenter) all concluded that the position held by Susan Kang Schroeder should be eliminated; the only recommendation summarily dismissed by Tony Rackauckas.  Instead, he acknowledged that he would agree to an ethics officer and independent monitoring.  He publically represented at a press conference held the day the report became public to adopt these reforms, but more than five months later, has yet to indicate when or how these reforms would be initiated or completed.

In April 2015, I brought to light that Tony Rackauckas’ Chief of Staff, Susan Kang Schroeder, failed to report for years with the County Clerk, which handles business and economic disclosures and conflict of interest reporting.  As the only DA Executive manager who was then not filing a Form 700, Schroeder had to scramble to file numerous Form 700’s revealing a business interest in a company she owns to promote her business (M3 Connection) and partner and musician/songwriter, Scott Foster, who has been a featured performer in numerous District Attorney hosted events using taxpayer resources, county contractor resources, and undisclosed anonymous donations.

In no way did I represent that I am currently employed at the Office of the District Attorney. Nor would I. The District Attorney is no longer held in high regard despite the fact his line deputies are working hard in the trenches serving the public every day. We must distinguish the person who sets the culture from those that have to work under it. I served in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office from 2008 to 2010.  During that time I was given the title “Assistant District Attorney” by the current District Attorney. I was also a Deputy District Attorney from 1990 to 1996, (under two different District Attorneys) until I was elected to the Board of Supervisors. I prosecuted all types of crimes, including serious felonies, gang cases, sex crimes, vehicular manslaughters (DUI deaths and injuries), bank robberies, home invasion robberies, and attempted murder.  I am proud of my service in the justice system and using appropriate, active tense voice, reflected properly on my experience in that role while talking about the need for ethics reform.  Whether in a robo call or my ballot statement, it is clearly identified that I am currently employed as an Orange County Supervisor.  The only one confused appears to be the District Attorney and his Chief of Staff.

I would encourage the Orange County District Attorney to focus on issues that matter, including how to ensure that justice is served and how to stop the early release of murderers because of prosecutorial errors and the political gamesmanship just highlighted by the Grand Jury regarding office politics. There are glaring issues of mismanagement and lack of leadership by the District Attorney which have been recognized by independent external bodies, victims and the media.  I also encourage voters to consider the merits of Measure A that would create an ethics commission in Orange County and ask, “Why is the District Attorney so paranoid?”  He says he is neutral on the Initiative, yet he admits that he needs an Ethics Officer in his office. He is not neutral; he is refusing to take a position. No one should be neutral on ethics, except an ethically challenged politician like Tony Rackauckas.

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