Steve Rocco, Andy Kaufman’s Living Ghost, Wants to Be OC’s Next Clerk-Recorder

The dreaded alliance of Kodak Film, Albertsons Inc. and Smokecraft Sausage is no match for Orange County’s favorite wacko gadfly: Steve Rocco has filed paperwork to become Orange County’s next Clerk-Recorder. Rocco, in case you’ve forgotten, is the mystery man who in 2004 became a trustee of the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) when voters chose him over a teachers’-union-backed candidate. Calling himself an “educator,” Rocco, an eccentric frequenter of swap meets who many believe to be the living ghost of performance artist Andy Kaufman and apparently briefly worked as a substitute teacher decades ago, attracted international media attention when he showed up for meetings wearing a black beanie and dark sunglasses and began publicly ranting about how Kodak, Albertsons and Smokecraft Sausage secretly control Orange County’s government in a scheme he called “The Partnership.”

Despite that alluring, non-teachers’-union-endorsed platform, Rocco’s subsequent political ambitions, both at OUSD and beyond, didn’t exactly pan out. In a 2005 press conference, Rocco declared that the Partnership hired a man to assassinate him. Four years later, in the most gloriously comical waste of taxpayer money in county history, prosecutors took Rocco to trial after a Chapman University security guard caught him red-handed in the act of stealing a half-empty, room-temperature, plastic bottle of ketchup from a school eating area. Longtime Rocco nemesis Fred Smoller, a Chapman professor Rocco had been stalking when he was busted, described the trial as “a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty,” with apologies to the Woody Allen film Bananas.

Rocco largely stepped out of the spotlight after the ketchup caper, but he did run (unsuccessfully) for the Clerk-Recorder office back in 2014. Maybe this is finally his year, though, since his only opponent currently listed on the OC Registrar of Voters website is someone named Hugh Nguyen who also happens to be OC’s current Clerk-Recorder. See how the Partnership works, people?

Good luck, Rocco!

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