There were two unexpected guests at the Orange County Democratic Party’s Annual Truman Dinner on Saturday night—the Republican contenders for District Attorney, incumbent Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Todd Spitzer.
Spitzer and Rackauckas have apparently come to the recognition that the County of Orange is taking on a decidedly Purple hue, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats by only 2.2 percentage points—down nearly a half point just since the June Primary. With Democratic voters likely the deciding factor in November, both candidates are now courting this long-forgotten bloc.
But before Democrats decide who to vote for, we need to hear from these candidates on issues that are important to Democrats—and really, important to all voters in Orange County.
The practice of getting criminal defendants to cooperate with the authorities and testify against co-defendants is critical to prosecutors. Both Rackauckas and Spitzer have regularly done this throughout their careers. It is especially effective for fighting gangs and organized crime, when the goal is to convict the leader of a criminal enterprise. Yet just this week, the day after both his campaign manager and personal lawyer were convicted of felonies, Donald Trump said that this practice of flipping witnesses should be illegal. This is a dangerous statement from the nation’s chief executive, and would undermine prosecutions and public safety here in Orange County.
Will Spitzer and Rackauckas stand with Democrats and denounce Donald Trump, or do they stand by the Republican and his dangerous position?
Political corruption is also serious issue here in Orange County. In February, Spitzer criticized Rackauckas for appearing on a taxpayer-paid mailer for a coffee featuring him and Supervisor Michelle Steel. He and the other three supervisors called it a “campaign mailer” and “nothing more than a ruse” on behalf of Steel and Rackauckas. And rightly so, as it was a clear misuse of public office. But in the last few weeks, residents of the third supervisorial district have begun receiving the same type of tax-payer funded mailers from Spitzer, inviting us to join him for a series of “Tele-Town Halls” on public safety issues between now and October 24. These all conveniently coincide with Spitzer’s campaign for District Attorney, and are clearly the same inappropriate use of public resources.
Will Rackauckas and Spitzer stop using this blatantly inappropriate form of tax-payer funded political campaigning, renounce the type of illegal activity that has infected the Trump campaign and administration, and pledge to prosecute political corruption?
These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to law enforcement and prosecution here in Orange County. With his National Security Advisor, Campaign Manager, Deputy Campaign Manager, personal attorney, and foreign policy advisor all having been convicted of felonies, Donald Trump and his five felons have ceded the mantle of leadership on issues of crime. Democrats have become the party of law and order. Independents and Republicans of good conscience agree with us and do not want Donald Trump’s lawlessness in Orange County. It is time to stand up to him and his GOP enablers in Congress.
During his keynote speech Saturday night, Rep. Adam Schiff led the crowd in a call-and-response aimed at the Orange County Republican Congressional delegation, exhorting voters to “throw the bums out.” I couldn’t see if either Rackauckas or Spitzer joined in the call, but the question for both of them is are they ready to actually join in the effort, or were they just giving lip service in a cynical effort to try to snooker Orange County Democrats in the hope of riding a Blue Wave into office?
Lee Fink is a lawyer who was born and raised in Tustin and is the Vice Chair of the Tustin Democratic Club. He served as a senior attorney in the Obama Administration and now practices law in Orange County.
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