California

Local California Political Duel Shows Limits of Ethics Reform

Political fight includes controversy over robocall in favor of ethics commission

|

If you want to watch a heated political feud, forget about the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. That presidential bad blood is toxic, but seems tame compared with what's going on in Orange County, Calif., between county Supervisor Todd Spitzer and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The two Republicans have been mixing it up for years, with Spitzer hoping one day to replace Rackauckas as the county's top cop.

This nasty local spat is of broader significance because it shows the pointlessness of creating commissions and new regulations to "fix" whatever's wrong with the political system. A couple weeks ago, I wrote for Reason about Orange County's Measure A, an effort by good-government activists to start an ethics panel to police campaign finance rules. "Often, these commissions are the worst of all worlds. They give the impression of oversight without actually overseeing much of anything," I concluded. It's not too independent either, given that politicians who will be monitored by the new panel get to choose its members.

Since then an intensifying spat between Spitzer and Rackauckas illustrates another crucial lesson: These commissions will almost certainly be gamed by political actors. Instead of clamping down on bad behavior, they offer tools for political actors to embarrass their opponents. The commission hadn't even been approved yet, and these two foes are using it to score points on each other.

Spitzer is a key supporter of the measure, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters on Tuesday. After he recorded a "robocall" backing it, Rackauckas called a press conference to accuse Spitzer of falsely impersonating an assistant district attorney. Rackauckas pointed to part of the script Spitzer read: "I have always played by the rules. As an assistant district attorney, I know that many politicians do not." Spitzer used to be an assistant district attorney until he was shown the door by Rackauckas in 2010.

Said Rackauckas at the presser: "Stunning isn't it? Not only does he falsely impersonate an assistant district attorney, he does not appear to follow campaign laws requiring 'paid telephone calls must identify the candidate who paid for or authorized the call.'" Spitzer, as quoted by the Register, responded: "The only person who could misinterpret what I'm saying in this robocall is a paranoid district attorney who has failed to do his job as the district attorney of Orange County." He said he clearly identified himself as a county supervisor at the beginning the call.

The D.A.'s office sent me Spitzer's latest campaign statement, in which he identifies himself as "a business owner, father and assistant district attorney," and a video in which he previously has identified himself as a former Los Angeles police officer—even though he was only a reserve officer. Rackauckas isn't going to press charges or do anything else about it. That's a good thing given these seem like fairly minor infractions.

At one level, this is great political theater. I've always been startled by Spitzer's tendency to play the first-responder card for maximum political impact. An amusing example: As a state assemblyman, he attended a press conference (regarding wildfires) dressed in yellow firefighter boots and a vest. In a less-amusing episode, last year he made a "citizen's arrest" of an unarmed man at a restaurant. After a youth counselor approached him to talk about the Bible, Spitzer went back to his car, grabbed a loaded gun and handcuffs and detained him until cops arrived.

Spitzer said he was concerned for his safety because the man was acting in a bizarre way. He told the Register his law enforcement background gives him "some kind of weird sixth sense when something's not right." My journalistic background gives me a similar sense about politicians. Neither the supervisor nor the D.A. is behaving in a manner that seems right—and I doubt yet another commission will do much about it.

After I contacted Spitzer, his office sent me a press release slamming the DA: "From the informant scandal committee to the grand jury, every independent and neutral observer who reviews the district attorney's management style is in complete agreement that the district attorney has allowed his office to become a rudderless ship with a culture of favoritism that endangers the public." Spitzer later issued another statement accusing Rackauckas of vindictiveness and retaliation.

This brings us back to Measure A, which was the measure that sparked all the fuss. Spitzer is for it. Rackauckas is neutral. But does anyone think creating a new panel will take the toxicity out of the political process? Or will it just give politicians another weapon with which to embarrass each other? We know the answer. Sorry, but there's no taking politics out of the political system, even if 70 percent of OC voters think otherwise.

Advertisement

NEXT: Court blocks California ban on using Assembly video in political ads

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.SelfCash10.com

  2. Anybody can earn 450$+ daily… You can earn from 8000-12000 a month or even more if you work as a full time job…It’s easy, just follow instructions on this page, read it carefully from start to finish… It’s a flexible job but a good eaning opportunity.. go to this site home tab for more detail…
    Go This Website.________ http://www.earnmore9.com

  3. RE: Local California Political Duel Shows Limits of Ethics Reform

    Gee, I wonder why there are limits to ethics reform made by the socialist turds enslaving us all.
    Could it be they don’t have any ethics and want to make sure any ethic code would be intentionally vague so they can rob and enslave us even more?
    Nah.
    That’s just being cynical.
    No politician would ever do that.
    History has shown that time and again.

  4. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser?

    ???? http://www.selfCash10.com

  5. 3″My friend just told me about this easiest method of freelancing. I’ve just tried it and now II am getting paid 15000usd monthly without spending too much time. you can also do this.

    ……….. http://www.Maxcenter20.com

  6. 2″My friend just told me about this easiest method of freelancing. I’ve just tried it and now II am getting paid 15000usd monthly without spending too much time.You can also do this.

    >>>>>>> https://www.Cashpay60.tk

  7. I am making $89/hour working from home. I never thought that it was legitimate but my best friend is earning $10 thousand a month by working online, that was really surprising for me, she recommended me to try it. just try it out on the following website.

    ??? http://www.selfcash10.com

  8. 3″I quit my 9 to 5 job and now I am getting paid 98usd hourly. How? I work-over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try-something NEW. After two years, I can say my life is changed-completely for the better! Check it out what i do.

    >>>>>>>>> http://www.Today70.com

  9. 4″I quit my 9 to 5 job and now I am getting paid 100usd hourly. How? I work-over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try-something NEW. After two years, I can say my life is changed-completely for the better!Learn More From This Site…

    ======> http://www.Today70.com

  10. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  11. my friend’s mom makes $73 hourly on the laptop . She has been out of a job for 6 months but last month her pay was $18731 just working on the laptop for a few hours…..

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ???????

    http://www.Reportmax20.com

  12. my roomate’s step-mother makes 60 each hour on the internet and she has been out of work for seven months but last month her check was 14489 just working on the internet for 5 hours a day, look at ..
    Read more on this web site..

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://www.maxincome20.com

  13. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.selfcash10.com

  14. This seems more interesting than Presidents Race. Whilst in Washington hot these days, in Orange County, Californian we observe dog days. It is everywhere like that with political system It seems to me it will never be arranged the way people want to. Commissions are doing nothing, they pretend monitoring the situation, but they are indifferent in real. They created to serve as a stooge in the hands of politicians. And we, simple, people are stooge in the hands of those commissions. We should change the system ourselves. We should reach out politicians via articles at http://www.paytowriteessay.net…..say-for-me or newspapers to warn of he consequences they may face it they will not listen to society.

  15. hungry shark evolution hack tool and cheats is a part of a game, it make you feel like a king of the game no one can defeat you in your game you have full control of game and also have full control of upgrade the shark that all are unlock it bring you ahead to you committer

  16. Thanks for sharing such post. Download Latest Version Xmodgames V2.3.5 to play all the android games for free.

  17. Thanks for sharing such post. Download Xmodgames App to use all the amazing features of android games. http://www.xmod.me/

  18. Thanks for sharing such post. Download Xmodgames App to use all the amazing features of android games. http://www.xmod.me/

  19. The website is one of the most significant ways of increasing one’s own business. Want to have a website of your own. Then contact RKV IT Solutions for developing a website for your business. We are the leader in responsive website development in Patna, Bihar. website development company in Patna

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.