Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.
DA Tony Rackauckas: I'm sorry
Nearly three weeks after he made a shocking election eve robocall to support Democrat Larry Agran's mayoral campaign in Irvine, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas apologized to his fellow Orange County Republicans at a Nov. 19 GOP central committee meeting.
"I didn't want Larry Agran to win," said Rackauckas. "And I'm glad that he didn't."
The DA first aided Republican campaign consultants in a pre-election mailer designed to exploit Agran's weakening of a 2011 Rackauckas proposed city ordinance that would have banned all sex offenders from public parks and school yards in Irvine.
Agran insisted that only sex offenders who've already attacked children should be banned; other sexual predators could still roam the areas--and, because he controlled Irvine with a 3-2 Democrat majority, he won.
Rackauckas provided Republican Party official Jon Fleischman, who created the mailer, with a quote damning Agran's move as watering down his proposal.
Agran, who frantically dumped about $300,000 of his own money into the race, saw the mailer five days before the election and panicked. He drove to the DA's office in Santa Ana and complained that the piece was unfair.
The call essentially told Irvine voters that everything law enforcement-wise was wonderful in Irvine--the opposite of the quote he gave Fleischman--and ended with Agran's voice saying he approved of the message.
Of course, local Republicans were stunned that Agran, a career politician who (until Nov. 6) perfected the art of stealing elections by employing fake Republican candidates and brazenly evading campaign finance rules, had enough sway to get his way behind the scenes with Rackauckas.
For years, Irvine residents have demanded that Rackauckas investigate ample clues of corruption, especially at the proposed Great Park, and watched as Agran acted with seeming impunity like a big city political machine boss.
On Monday night, the DA assured the Republican crowd that nothing sinister had happened.
He pulled a John Kerry.
In effect, he declared that he was against Agran before he was for him and is now against him, again.
"Uh, since, you know in the heat of the situation you make decisions and that decision was, uh, a bit hasty," Rackauckas told central committee members. "I've looked back on it and I sort of autopsied it with all the people involved and I realized that I think there would have been--I couldn't let that [GOP mailer] stand and that I had to make that change but there would have been other ways to do it. For example, a press release or a press conference or something of that nature and it wouldn't have had the Larry Agran stamp on it. So, that would have been a change that would have gone down a little bit better if I'd done it that way."
At the meeting, Allan Bartlett, a prominent Republican activist in Irvine, told the DA that he appreciated his apology but remained skeptical.
"Your robocall could have swung the election in Irvine [for Agran and against Steven Choi]," Bartlett said. "Luckily, it didn't . . . Can you appreciate how upset some of us are?"
The DA, who has been in power since 1999, fired back, "Well, I do. Of course, I do."
Todd Spitzer--the newly elected, Republican Orange County supervisor and probable 2014 challenger to Rackauckas--must be smiling this morning.