The battle between Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Todd Spitzer escalated this week, when the county’s top prosecutor alleged his longtime foe would abuse public oversight for political gain – a mirror image of allegations Spitzer made against the DA two weeks ago.
Rackauckas, in a letter sent to all five supervisors on Monday, July 24, demanded that Spitzer sit out closed-door discussions about whether the county should fight whistle blower claims filed recently by three investigators in the District Attorney’s office. Those claims accuse Rackauckas of suppressing probes against his allies, and that his office concealed evidence in a homicide case and interfered into an investigation of a local police chief.
Rackackas wrote that Spitzer shouldn’t sit in on the meetings to debate those claims because he’s running for District Attorney in 2018, a job Rackauckas wants to keep. If supervisors reject the claims, they’ll probably be filed as civil lawsuits seeking monetary damages from the county.
Spitzer disregarded Rackauckas’ demand on Tuesday and attended the meeting, saying he was following the advice of county council. Spitzer said Rackauckas’ letter was a bid to stop him from running for DA. The supervisor made a similar claim earlier this month when the Register discovered the DA had been investigating Spitzer since November, a probe that, as of June, had found no wrongdoing.
The pair’s recent high-profile barbs highlight the messiness of the lengthy DA’s race to come – one in which Rackauckas’s and Spitzer’s public duties will give them ample opportunities to attack the other. The spats also reveal how both men fear the other will use his fiduciary powers to dig for dirt that can be used in the campaign.
In his letter, Rackauckas speculated that Spitzer would be incentivized to act against the county’s best interests, even if it cost taxpayers more money.
“Supervisor Spitzer not only has a…