By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
If the grand jury is right, Blankenship is a repeat offender when it comes to misuse of public resources:
•After his son—who was heading for the beach—parked his car illegally in a library lot, the chief ordered a commander in the major fraud unit to investigate the towing company that towed the car away.
•On four occasions, DA investigators were sent on surveillance missions targeting Anthony C. Rackauckas because the DA feared that his son, then a 30-year-old Riverside County resident, might drive with a suspended license.
•When the adult ex-boyfriend of Blankenship's daughter went missing, DA investigators launched an undercover missing-person operation—normally the job of the Sheriff's Department or local police.
•Hoping to find dirt on a Rackauckas critic, DA investigators secretly entered a veteran prosecutor's office on a Friday night, removed the hard drive from his computer, copied it at a cost to taxpayers of $1,400 and, finding nothing improper, quickly re-installed it on a Saturday morning.
The incidents prompted the grand jury to hand Rackauckas recommendations that were adopted at the turn of the past century in other parts of the country. They noted that "the hiring of investigative command staff should be based solely on merit" and that the DA "should enact a comprehensive written policy concerning the inappropriate use of county time, equipment and resources."
But don't expect real reform from Rackauckas, who is hoping public attention to the corruption scandal fades quickly. In a press statement, he claimed that Blankenship's "leadership has resulted in significant benefits to the public." Notably, he gave no examples. Even when it came to Blankenship's bar hopping on the public dole, the DA sounded more like a sniveling bureaucrat than a tough, law abiding prosecutor.
"To the extent that accounting practices need to be revised to ensure that all county monies are properly spent and reported," he said, "that will be done."
Bottoms up!This is the third in a series of articles based on the grand jury's findings of corruption in the district attorney's office.