The Real Todd Spitzer Stands Up

[Moxley Confidential] Orange County's potential next district attorney makes a surprising confession in his eternal war against DA Tony Rackauckas and GOP power couple Susan and Mike Schroeder

There's no question private attorney Todd Spitzer is determined to become district attorney, with the weighty power to decide who is and isn't prosecuted for crimes in Orange County, a place with a population greater than 20 American states.

While Spitzer is presently campaigning for an open county supervisor seat and waiting for four-term, 69-year-old (as of next month) DA Tony Rackauckas to retire, two key questions linger: After a series of gaffes, is Spitzer ready for the top prosecutor job? And will Rackauckas chief of staff Susan Kang Schroeder, his indefatigable nemesis, thwart him?

The Schroeder/Spitzer clash might be OC's best ugly rivalry. She is from Mars, he is from Venus, and—depending on who is speaking—they both want to either be DA or control the office. With Schroeder whispering in his ear, Rackauckas cited maturity issues when he fired Spitzer from his assistant DA job in September 2010.

The aftermath of that firing was soap-opera ugly. Rackauckas and Spitzer called dueling press conferences. The DA labeled Spitzer—a former frontline prosecutor, reserve LAPD cop, KFI-AM 640 radio host, school-board member, victim's-rights advocate, state assemblyman and county supervisor—an undisciplined brat. Spitzer labeled Rackauckas and his top advisers, Newport Beach power couple Susan and Mike Schroeder, "totally unethical."

It wasn't the first time Spitzer threw a grenade toward the trio—in October 2004, I covered a speech by then-Assemblyman Spitzer at a Rush Limbaugh Club meeting where he declared that Rackauckas and the Schroeders had "poisoned" the DA's office. "The people of this county deserve a DA who is fair, just and beyond reproach," he said.

But four years later, Spitzer found himself facing term limits in his Sacramento post, needing a well-paying job and taking a boat ride with Rackauckas, during which—incredibly—he asked the DA if he could return to the OC district attorney's office and work as his understudy. Rackauckas, a tepid fund-raiser who knew Spitzer wanted his job in the 2010 election and had more than $1 million in a campaign war chest, said yes. That strained arrangement—a less successful deal than the present Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton marriage—survived for several years until the monumental break-up.

So, to summarize: In 2004, Rackauckas is evil, according to Spitzer. In 2008, Spitzer asks the DA to hand him a high-ranking post and become his mentor. In 2010, Rackauckas fires Spitzer and—voila!—becomes evil again.

I've featured those flip-flops in previous columns, including one titled "Will the Real Todd Spitzer Stand Up?" (Sept. 9, 2010). Little did I know that yet another eye-opening, newsworthy flip-flop was on the horizon. About two months after he was fired and angrily blasted Rackauckas and the Schroeders as personified evil, Spitzer launched secret, friendly negotiations with them.

We might not have known about this development, but in recent weeks, Mrs. Schroeder got annoyed that Spitzer was once again disparaging DA management. "If we're so corrupt, why did Todd cry for his job back?" she asked me, knowing that I would respond, "What?!"

I immediately asked Spitzer via text message if the story were true. He refused to respond in writing. We met, and he admitted he had privately sought reconciliation with the DA and the Schroeders. He also told me he had not asked for his job back, a stance he maintained for an hour until I dropped a bomb: "Susan told me she has proof that you did."

Spitzer then told me his goal hadn't necessarily been to get his job back, but rather to seek détente on the personal animosity and solicit Rackauckas' advice on career moves.

"She told me she has a voice message you left for Tony where you were weepy and asked for your job back," I said.

Spitzer—who is often passionate in his endeavors—admitted he left voice mail messages for the DA. He cautioned me to appreciate the circumstances at the time of the calls: He'd just celebrated his 50th birthday, was unemployed for the first time after losing his "dream job" as a prosecutor, and was worried about how he would financially provide for his family.

I again asked him if he'd asked for his job back. He paused before answering, "I might have. . . . Okay, I probably did, but it was more of a global thing with Tony—where can we go from here?"

You'll forgive me if my head is spinning.

Spitzer volunteered additional context for what, according to my calculations, is the fourth flip-flop in six years on the same subject. He said lambasting Mike Schroeder (a former chairman of the California Republican Party) and Rackauckas had been done in anger after being blindsided by his abrupt firing. Though he doesn't think they are squeaky-clean, Spitzer respects both men, cherishes their opinion and—even after all the intense hostilities and name calling—enjoys their company.

He won't say the same for Susan Kang Schroeder. In his eyes, she is the relentless, petty instigator of all the trouble between the men (See my Feb. 1 Navel Gazing post, "Todd Spitzer Prosecutes DA Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder in Titlegate").

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10 comments
Janey12
Janey12

How old are these people? Saving voicemails, secret meetings, namecalling; Reese Witherspoon's character in "Election" comes to mind. We all worry about providing for our families. Too many Americans have lost their "dream jobs" due to disability, economic downturns, outsourcing, etc. Few are able to hold out for that perfect job. The "public servants" in this story are determined to do exactly that.

Anteater2004
Anteater2004

So Spitzer is willing to be an adult, turn the other cheek and you're lambasting him for it? That makes no sense! In the short time he was in the DA's office, Spitzer uncovered a massive corruption scandal--one that had been left untouched because it involved the DA's girlfriend.

From what I've heard about Spitzer, it's pretty clear that he's passionate about public safety. So much so that he was willing to swallow his pride and work for someone personally he might not like, just so that professionally he could fight for the rights of crime victims.

It's clear to me this is a one-sided vendetta. Spitzer seems more than willing to bury the hatchet to get things done. It's the vindictiveness and pettiness of TRack and Schroeder that are keeping this feud alive.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have someone like Spitzer who is willing to end the feud than someone like TRack or Schroeder who wants to perpetuate it.

I'm sure if/when Todd becomes Supervisor he won't use his position to exact a vendetta against Schroeder and TRack. Too bad those two can't say the same.

As taxpayers, we should all be ashamed by the childish and petty behavior coming from elected officials like TRack.

Steve
Steve

This d-bag's lack of shame and megalomaniacal personality never cease to amaze. That Americans would ever elect a drooling narcissist like this is even more discouraging. You would expect something like this in the hills of Kentucky or Mississippi but OC?

Why won't this Spitzer clown just go away.

Ethan Davis
Ethan Davis

I think Tony Rackauckas has Todd's number pretty well, I have been in the court room with Spitzer. GOD help the people of Orange County if he ever becomes DA. Todd Spitzers engines are powered by his thirst for the blood of the corpses of his enemy's and his enemy's are anyone that does not fall in-line with the rest of his CULT followers.

He was an ineffective Assemblyman and an even worse County Supervisor. His votes on the Board of Supervisors can be blamed for just about everything that is wrong in Orange County today.

I wonder why the Republican Party can't find a decent candidate for that BOS seat.

Is it really that people are afraid of that pile of cash he has extorted from those thugs running the government employee unions.

If Todd is not forced to spend that money in this cycle, we will be begging "District Attorney Spitzer" for mercy in 2 years.

WE SHOULD ALL BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID!

ginkobiloba
ginkobiloba

Remember - small minds talk about other people Todd. Please rise above your past and start showing the people that you can work for them, have ideas and lead like a noble DA, not thrive on pettiness and childish backtalk. Do something for someone else and seek no glory. Just to prove it to yourself that you can actually do it.

Mary Jane Doe
Mary Jane Doe

Yes, Anteater2004. I agree. It's called diplomacy. Learn to read between the lines people. TRack is completely corrupt (Carona buddy) and threw Todd under the bus. At least Todd is out there fighting hard for the right's of victims. I don't see anybody else at OCDA doing that.

Mary Jane Doe
Mary Jane Doe

Well, this so called "d-bag" has co-authored three bills for victim's rights. Yeah, I hate it when people in power stand up and fight for victims of crime. (Serious layer of sarcasm here.)

Crooks6
Crooks6

God help the people of OC if Susan becomes DA as planned. Tony wins another term then after 2 years appoints her as DA. She must be stopped!

Mary Jane Doe
Mary Jane Doe

Please, a cult? That is absolutely ridiculous. And singularly blaming his votes for just about everything that's wrong with the County is complete nonsense.

Look at who he's up against. TRack. I wouldn't trust that slimey man with anything.

And, I'll take a bloodthirsty prosecutor going after violent criminals who victimize innocent people any day over the bunch of corrupt, inefficient pussies that are at the OCDA now.

 
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