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By Charles Lam
"But I know you met with Susan, too, at a Starbucks," I said.
Spitzer conceded the rendezvous, claiming he was curious to explore a chance for peace. Unlike Schroeder, he says, he doesn't believe in "nonstop, take-no-prisoners" personal warfare. In his view, public employees should solve problems—not use their positions to settle personal scores.
"Here's the bottom line," said Spitzer. "If they told me I could go back [to the DA's office] today, I'd be there in a heartbeat. I love that office—I really love it. Plenty of prosecutors have left and become defense lawyers. That's not for me. I can't do that. I'm a prosecutor at heart. It's in my blood, and I'm not going to lie: I want to be DA."
It wasn't easy for Spitzer to come clean. He's an ambitious politician with undeniable skills, and anti-Rackauckas/anti-Schroeder forces desperately have wanted him as their unblemished warrior. To that crowd, his periodic dalliances with the Schroeders and Rackauckas understandably cause suspicion, if not outright alienation.
But Spitzer's startling admission that he'd gladly return to the Rackauckas regime he has helped to taint is also oddly freeing. He no longer has to pretend he's perfect, and he can blame a vicious, booby-trapped environment. In his mind, self-protective maneuverings—the infamous flip-flops—are necessary if he's ever going to become the excellent DA he foresees.
Afterward, I asked Schroeder to play for me Spitzer's incriminating voice-mail message to Rackauckas.
"We don't have it," she said. "It was erased. I wanted Todd to think we'd kept it so that he'd be honest with you."
This column appeared in print as "The Real Todd Spitzer Stands Up: Orange County's potential next district attorney makes a surprising confession."