Reiff: DA Candidate Spitzer Sounds Off on Incumbent Rackauckas, OC Corruption, Wahoo’s

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer says the botched prosecution of confessed mass murderer Scott Dekraai is reason enough for voters to oust longtime county district attorney Tony Rackauckas.

“If a district attorney is prosecuting the worst mass murder in Orange County history and is systematically removed from that case for cheating and fabricating information and not turning over evidence … does that person deserve to get reelected? When OJ Simpson was acquitted in Los Angeles, the district attorney lost his job,” Spitzer said in an interview for the “Inside OC with Rick Reiff” public affairs program.

Next year’s DA race is shaping up as a battle royal between bitter political foes Rackauckas and Spitzer.

Dekraai pleaded guilty to killing eight people in a Seal Beach hair salon in 2011 but in pursuing the case the DA’s office and sheriff’s department became embroiled in a jail informant controversy that resulted in judicial reprimands, retrials, removal of the death penalty option for Dekraai, calls for Rackauckas’ resignation and even a “60 Minutes” expose.

Rackauckas has maintained that the “snitch scandal” is overblown and has defended his office’s actions. He has a standing invitation to appear on “Inside OC” but has so far declined.

Spitzer contrasted Rackauckas with Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who announced she will not seek reelection next year in the wake of the informant controversy as well as a high-profile jail escape: “She had the ability to understand that the county was more important than her political career.”

A former prosecutor, Assemblyman and reserve Los Angeles police officer, Spitzer has been tagged “Ready, Fire, Aim” for his brash style and pilloried as “Armed and Unhinged” on a Facebook page.

Spitzer brushed aside concerns over whether he has the temperament and judgment for the DA’s job, saying critics who have observed him in the “political arena” incorrectly assume “that skill set transfers over to district attorney… I have excellent judgment, I’m incredibly fair, I know the difference between right and wrong and I don’t have to cheat to get convictions.”

He said “the political elite” oppose his candidacy because “they’re so used to a county where political corruption has been swept under the rug … There are a lot of fat and happy politicians, a lot of fat and happy insiders, who don’t want a real prosecutor in this county.”

Spitzer defended his citizen arrest of a man in a Wahoo’s Fish Taco two years ago. Spitzer retrieved a loaded gun from his car and handcuffed the man, who he said was trying to evangelize him and acting erratically. Deputies answering Spitzer’s 911 call briefly detained the man before releasing him without charges.

“If I went in the restaurant and just split, I took off, left all those people … and he hurt people, you and others would say, ‘Oh my God, Todd Spitzer’s a prosecutor and trained police officer and he abandoned it because he was only thinking of himself.”

The county fought requests by Voice of OC for Spitzer’s county correspondence about the incident and attempted to depose Voice Publisher Norberto Santana. A judge ordered the county to release emails and pay the Voice $121,396 in legal fees.

Spitzer said the decisions on how to deal with Voice of OC were made by the county counsel, not him.

Spitzer addressed many topics in the wide-ranging interview, airing in two parts this week and next on PBS SoCal, KDOC and Cox. The first episode is also on YouTube. Show times are at www.rickreiff.com.

Spitzer criticized turf battles between sheriff deputies and county firefighters, notably over whose helicopters should respond to which calls.

“We need as many helicopters as possible (in emergencies). “Who cares if they’re green or if they’re red?” Spitzer said. “I’m looking at the sheriff’s department, I’m looking at the Fire Authority, and I’m saying, ‘Knock this off, we expect you to be professional.’”

Spitzer said inter-agency coordination, or lack of it, is a subject of an investigation into the public safety response to October’s canyon fires in Anaheim. The blaze torched 9,000 acres and destroyed or damaged some 60 homes.

Spitzer suggested that the state’s early prisoner release program and reduced sentencing have increased the “criminal element” among the homeless: “We can’t let that (Santa Ana) riverbed be Orange County’s skid row. I’m not going to allow it.”

But Spitzer said he has also promoted “empathetic and compassionate” policies to treat, shelter and assist the homeless, including this year’s opening of the 200-bed Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim: “Nobody wants these shelters and I said, ‘Put it in my district,’ and it’s been a phenomenal success.”

Spitzer said the public has soured on law enforcement since he was a prosecutor in the 1990’s. A decade later he served two years as senior deputy AD before Rackauckas fired him.

“The juries loved us. They trusted us, they trusted the police officers,” Spitzer said. “I came back in 2008 and now jurors are telling me during jury selection, ‘You can’t trust police officers, they lie. The district attorney’s office, you know they cheat.’ I was beside myself.”

Spitzer, 57, said Orange County is suffering “civil unrest” similar to what he saw growing up in Montebello east of downtown LA: “We had riots in East Los Angeles in 1968 and we had riots in Anaheim in 2012 … We don’t have any particular ethnic group that’s a majority in Orange County and we’re now a melting pot and we’re having all of the same kind of social and urban problems that you see in big cities.”

Rick Reiff is Editor at Large, Orange County Business Journal, Host, Producer, “Inside OC” on PBS SoCal

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

  • George Gallagher

    I have known Todd for more than 20 years. He is truly one of goods guys. He would make excellent DA.

  • Ed Romero

    Why wasn’t he SOUNDING OFF at the corruption at the Sheriff Department under those 2 former Sheriff’s and worse yet, how about what was happening at the Orange County Probation Department under that leadership of that former Chairperson of the Orange County GOP. She had a HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION but that didn’t STOP the Board of Supervisor’s from installing her as Judge, she knew NOTHING about the Penal, Civil or Traffic Codes, she was a DISASTER in that position, what did the Board of Supervisor’s do, Fire Her, NO NO NO, they PROMOTED her to Chief Probation Officer, she was also a disaster in that positions, with 2 Murders and 1 Attempted Murder by one of her Juvenile Hall Counselors, Sex Scandal after Scandal including herself and her Lesbian Lover the Asst. Chief Probation Officer, there was Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking, Cocaine Snorting and OUT IN THE OPEN Lesbian CROYISM, being Hire and Promoted just because your knew the right Lesbian, that includes the Door Man (female) at that Lesbian Bar where the Chief Probation Officer and all her Racist Drug Dealing, Marijuana Smoking, Cocaine Snorting Lesbians hung out, she would write a check to the Bar Owner and the Doors would be locked (by that Door Man that today is a Clerical Supervisor at the Probation Department), the lights turned off, the music turned up and a MATTRESS thrown on the Pool Table. What did the Board of Supervisors do, the PROMOTED her again, this time to Director of Health, still with her HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION. What a bunch of dirty Rotten Republicans.

  • verifiedsane

    Another laughable robo comment from Toad Spitter campaign headquarters…Todd Spitzer is no different than Tony Rackauckas…both are self serving & entrenched oligarchy clowns than will continue to make the dysfunctional and politicized OC DA’s office a national joke….

  • LFOldTimer

    “Spitzer always supports victims.”

    The poor kid he handcuffed at Wahoo’s was certainly a victim.

    How did Todd treat him?

    To this day he still badmouths him.

    Todd only supports victims when it’s politically expedient to do so. Otherwise he denigrates them.

    • The only person treating a suspect worse than a police officer is a reserve officer, (a wannabe). as I recall most sworn LAPD officers avoid reservists like the plague.
      I am not positive but as I remember reservists worked traffic as motor officers.

      • LFOldTimer

        We agree about 90% of the time but that remaining 10% is a doozy!!! lol.

        Merry Christmas, Dweeze!!!

  • David Zenger

    “Spitzer always supports victims.”

    Yes, he even built a victim’s monument. And spent public money on it after he said it would be built with private donations.

  • Eva O’Ke

    Spitzer do the right thing and stop supporting the Toll Road project. $11. 4 billion in debt, many refinances, 63% of OCs JPA, among highest tolls in the nation, Highest levels of debt per mile. Extremely high salaries for the executive team almost twice as much as Caltrans. Please stand with South OC.

  • LFOldTimer

    One of the most important jobs in county government and once again we get to choose between Frankenstein and Dracula. There might be another stumblebum or two in the race but they’re only on the ballot for appearance sake. As usual, the fix is in.

    But it’s a real knee-slapper to watch Count Dracula call Frankenstein a loser. More theater for the stupid plebes to absorb. After seeing what happened to Karen Schatzle for having the ambition and guts to run against Steiner any decent candidates who would make an outstanding DA’s are no doubt scared stiff to throw their hats into the ring out of fear of retribution by the legal system. So we’re stuck with more clowns who could only cause more damage to a system that is already at par with the criminal legal system in Tijuana.

    You’re not fooling those who pay attention to county government, Todd. You’ve got nothing on T-Rack. Zero, zilch, nada. You’re a COUNTY EXECUTIVE at the top of the food chain who’s supposed to protect the integrity of the county and our public treasure. Why didn’t you ever call Hutchens up to the podium and ask her why she covered for her lying deputies who withheld exculpatory evidence and concealed the secret jail informant program in multiple criminal cases that cost the taxpayers MILLIONS to readjudicate? Nothing will happen to those sworn officials who openly violated the law. You were silent as a friggin’ church mouse until you learned Hutchens endorsed T-Rack. Only then did you suddenly made some stupid comment about her – but you never demanded explanations for the lies, for the cover-ups, for concealing material evidence and for sending people to jail who later had their convictions overturned due to dirty & foul play on part of COUNTY government. You sat there and did NOTHING! And you expect ME to vote for YOU for DA??? lol. Fat chance, We can’t change the stripes on a zebra. You are what you are. And you won’t change. With you in charge cops will keep on lying and violating their sworn oaths – and you won’t do squat to stop it. You won’t even speak up and condemn it. You carry the police union water bucket. Shame on you. You’re just another political hack who takes the road that is most politically expedient for your own career path and pursuit of power.

    It’ll be a cold day in h*ll when you get my vote!

  • David Zenger

    Little Bible Boy may (or probably may not) have been looking at Spitzer’s table knife. Time to get armed and dangerous.

    The Wahoo’s Fish Combo Plate Episode is reason enough for voters to reject Mr. Ready, Fire, Aim. And NOBODY believes the stonewalling of the press release was a decision made by County Counsel.

    • LFOldTimer

      Reiff is deep state on a county level.

  • Roger Gill

    Spitzer gets my vote! I like his no nonsense approach to politics. He’ll always stand up for what’s right no matter what. He’s our best bet at eliminating complacency and corruption at the DA’s office.

    • verifiedsane

      The disingenuous, self absorbed, self serving egomaniac, and dirty political animal Toad Spitter
      campaign headquarters has their laughable comment puppets out in force
      once again..A Vote for either Todd Spitzer or Tony Rackauckas is a vote for the OC bad old boys club, and a continuation of the institutionalized DA’s office political corruption..

    • Roger I think your describing Shawn Nelson is the one you are thinking of. I originally believer spitzer would be beast to replace T Rac but I see him as change to the same. jump for a chance at a tv screen appearance. I think we need new blood. I will be writing in Judge Goethals for DA.

      • I took a look at Gills DISQUS profile, 23 comments all private (blocked), suspect they are all supporting spitzer.

      • LFOldTimer

        A Goethal’s write-in is a wasted vote – but I think I’ll join you, Dweeze.

        At least I’ll be able to sleep at night.

  • Rosie Lee

    T-Rack should go on Rick Reiff and answer to all his failures as DA. Criminals must be rubbing their hands because they know they’ll get off easy when Rackauckas is in charge of the prosecution. Sad reality is the victims are the ones who are paying for Tony’ mistakes.

    • verifiedsane

      The disingenuous, self absorbed, and dirty political animal Toad Spitter
      campaign headquarters has their laughable comment puppets out in force
      once again…VOTE for Anyone except Todd Spitzer or Tony Rackauckas

  • frustrated

    An estimated 53,000 people homeless in Orange County alone and only 200 beds at Bridges (a religiously based facility sponsored by Salvation Army) and a housing shortage in ORANGE COUNTY CALIFORNIA.

    But Spitzer said he has also promoted “empathetic and compassionate” policies to treat, shelter and assist the homeless, including this year’s opening of the 200-bed Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim: “Nobody wants these shelters and I said, ‘Put it in my district,’ and it’s been a phenomenal success.”

    “Spitzer said the public has soured on law enforcement since he was a prosecutor in the 1990’s. A decade later he served two years as senior deputy AD before Rackauckas fired him”.

    “Spitzer suggested that the state’s early prisoner release program and reduced sentencing have increased the “criminal element” among the homeless: “We can’t let that (Santa Ana) riverbed be Orange County’s skid row. I’m not going to allow it.”

    But you allowed 60 homes to be burned down and people lost their lives in the Canyon Fire because you were not ready.

    And yet someone that cannot even manage his own sponsored job fair and create actual jobs doesn’t belong in the County Supervisors seat either. I went to one of these and the jobs desk for the county was closed, it had a sign hanging that had the county orange above it at the hotel down by the 405 Freeway.

  • Nicky Pierce

    SPITZER FOR DA!

    • verifiedsane

      The disingenuous, self absorbed, and dirty political animal Toad Spitter campaign headquarters has their laughable comment puppets out in force once again…Todd Spitzer & Tony Rackauckas are simply two sides of the same counterfeit coin 🙂

  • frustrated

    “Spitzer suggested that the state’s early prisoner release program and reduced sentencing have increased the “criminal element” among the homeless: “We can’t let that (Santa Ana) riverbed be Orange County’s skid row. I’m not going to allow it.”

    But you allowed 60 homes to be burned down and people lost their lives in the Canyon Fire because you were not ready.

  • frustrated

    And yet someone that cannot even manage his own sponsored job fair and create actual jobs doesn’t belong in the County Supervisors seat either. I went to one of these and the jobs desk for the county was closed, it had a sign hanging that had the county orange above it at the hotel down by the 405 Freeway.

  • Jessica Davis

    Mr. Spitzer, I support your position. If the DA lied on the case of the worst mass murderer in county history (and one that was under intense public scrutiny) I can only imagine the scale of his cheating at the DA’s office.

    • verifiedsane

      The disingenuous, self absorbed, and dirty political animal Toad Spitter
      campaign headquarters has their laughable comment puppets out in force
      once again…Todd Spitzer & Tony Rackauckas are corruption Siamese twins & just more of the same…