Party's Not Over Yet

GOP insider maneouvers for DA's office

Rackauckas has said that if elected, he will end what he considers Capizzi's policy of wasting resources to pursue what he called "ticky, tacky" political-corruption cases. That strikes some observers as code: Capizzi's investigation of Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) still rankles GOP insiders, who say Capizzi's attempts to bust Baugh for felonies turned merely technical violations into Watergate. So it's little surprise that Rackauckas' supporters include Baugh's: Republican Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce; Republican state Senators John Lewis and Ross Johnson; Republican Assemblymen Jim Morrissey and Curt Pringle; and Mike Schroeder, chairman of the California Republican Party. Schroeder has been a particularly adamant Rackauckas backer. On April 16, he circulated a letter to party activists calling the judge a "good Republican" and Wade a man who associates with a few--gasp--Democrats. A well-known Republican who supports Rackauckas and is an outspoken critic of Capizzi's prosecution of GOP corruption cases (including Baugh and Rohrabacher aide/wife Rhonda Carmony) conceded privately that Wade would run the DA's office without partisanship. "That guy [Wade] is as straight as they come," he said. At the Republican women's forum in Dana Point, Wade said: "When a driver sees a flashing red light and he is pulled over by a cop, the cop asks for the person's auto registration, not his party registration. I'm a Republican, but it doesn't matter if you are Republican or Democrat. If you violate the law, you should be prosecuted. Keeping partisanship out of the DA's office is of big concern to me."

Rackauckas hasn't been quite so straightforward. He routinely brags about his "close" ties to the local GOP machine, and at the Dana Point forum, he didn't echo Wade's commitment to a nonpartisan DA's office. He would only say: "Political corruption, we can't tolerate. We can't have a situation like Chicago."

But Rackauckas' final remark of the event was troubling. He ridiculed Wade for failing to follow the secret instructions of state GOP head (and Bob Dornan attorney) Schroeder to raid without legal cause the print-shop offices of Dornan nemesis Michael Farber in connection with the DA's probe into allegations that illegal votes stole the 1996 election in the 46th Congressional District. Wade says it wasn't Schroeder who called him; it was Dornan himself. And he admits proudly that he didn't yield to the pressure. Rackauckas was incredulous. Displaying symptoms of a love of party that is perhaps too intense for the DA's office, he told the Republican ladies Wade wasn't trustworthy, that he wouldn't follow Republican Party advice. "He didn't do it," Rackauckas concluded. It might be the best thing that can be said of Wally Wade.

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