Either Orange County flipped upside down in a cosmic miracle or a sudden gust of hurricane force wind tossed District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on his head and gave him amnesia.
Rackauckas first ran for the county's top prosecutor job in 1998 while promising to shift agency resources away from launching public corruption cases that had so delighted his predecessor, Mike Capizzi.
But the four-term DA is now asking the Orange County Board of Supervisors to give him an additional $1,117,425 annually to supplement his Special Prosecutions/Special Assignment staff with two senior deputy district attorneys, two investigators, one paralegal, one investigative assistant and one clerk.
According to a county agenda document for the board's Sept. 25 public hearing, the seven new posts will be part of a new Public Integrity Team "dedicated exclusively to address the growing number of complaints and investigations of crimes involving people holding public office."
Over the last several years, the DA officials claim they have witnessed an increase in the number of cases of possible criminal acts by elected officials in the county, including bribery, misuse of public resources, conflicts of interest, illegal secrecy, officer involved shootings, custodial deaths and campaign violations.
"The citizens of Orange County have the right to expect their public officials will carry out their duties in a lawful, ethical and professional manner," the DA's staff wrote in support of the new government spending.
The proposal is a good one, if tardy. Rackauckas critics like public integrity activist Shirley Grindle have long complained that the DA was soft on public corruption.
Rackauckas' move is also a likely small step compared to what future Supervisor and future DA (my apologies, of course, to Susan Kang Schroeder) Todd Spitzer will want deployed.
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. Corporate crooks won’t take his calls. Murderous gangsters mad-dogged him in court. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Pusillanimous cops have left hostile messages using fake names. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. And a frantic state legislator literally caught sleeping with lobbyists sprinted down state capital hallways to evade his questions in Sacramento.