August 31st, 2010, 6:38 pm · posted by Kimberly Edds, Staff Writer
Ousted Assistant District Attorney Todd Spitzer claims Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney’s chief of staff, colluded with her boss Tony Rackauckas to get him fired in the hopes of derailing Spitzer’s plans to be the next Orange County District Attorney – and to move Schroeder herself a step closer to getting the job.
Schroeder, reached by telephone while on vacation in Hawaii, said nothing could be further from the truth. However, she said a confidentiality agreement prohibits her from discussing the details of Spitzer’s 18 months at the District Attorney’s Office and his firing.
“I think when someone gets fired, it’s common for them to blame everyone on the planet and come up with these wild conspiracy theories,” Schroeder said. “Todd is ranting and raving and trying to blame everyone else for where he is at right now.”
She urged Spitzer to waive his confidentiality agreement.
Once that’s waived, Schroeder said, “we’ll be happy to discuss it in full detail.”
Spitzer said he was unaware of a confidentiality agreement, but “he is happy to allow anybody to look at my personnel file to prove there is absolutely nothing to these allegations. There is nothing to these made up allegations that have been fabricated after the fact.”
Spitzer, who was an at-will employee, says he was fired Friday afternoon by former mentor Rackauckas, who accused him of “inappropriate contact” with the county’s Public Administrator/Guardian’s Office. Spitzer says his inquiry to that office was a legitimate part of his effort to track down details in a case.
The reason for his firing, he believes, was not about his call to the Public Administrator/Guardian’s Office, but rather about politics.
Schroeder – who is married to Rackauckas adviser and behind-the-scenes political player Mike Schroeder – wants to become the next district attorney, Spitzer claims, and this was an excuse to get Spitzer out of the way without having to explain why.
“Susan Schroeder will use anybody and anything to advance her own self-interest,” Spitzer said. “It’s just sickening.”
Since Saturday, the former county supervisor and former state Assemblyman has been on a non-stop publicity campaign to give his side of his ouster.
Being fired “has been like a shot of adrenaline,” Spitzer told us, vowing run for the District Attorney’s Office as planned in 2014. Only now it appears he will be running without the backing of Rackauckas.
Susan Schroeder again told us that she is not running for District Attorney in 2014, adding that “Tony will be the DA as long as he wants.”
Rackauckas previously told us that he expected to step down in 2014. He described in carefully crafted language something of a provisional endorsement of Spitzer.
Spitzer’s recent actions have only reinforced qualms many people had about bringing Spitzer into the District Attorney’s Office, Schroeder said.
“The misgivings about Todd have been that he would misuse his role as a prosecutor and recklessly disregard facts for political reasons,” Schroeder said. “His rantings and recitations of the facts are false.”
The night before Spitzer was fired, he handed Rackauckas a beer at a $500-a-plate fundraiser for Sheriff Sandra Hutchens as they chatted about bass fishing.
They sat next to each other at the head table, Spitzer said, dining on Italian food and smiling and shaking hands with Hutchens’ supporters. From all accounts of the Villa Park bash, including Spitzer’s, everything was business as usual for the veteran district attorney and Spitzer. Many, including Spitzer himself, believed he was the heir apparent to the District Attorney’s Office.
The next day, Spitzer would be escorted out of the county offices at 401 Civic Center Drive, after he was fired by Rackauckas.
There was no investigation by the District Attorney’s Office into Spitzer’s contact with the Public Administrator/Public Guardian’s Office, Spitzer said. He was never interviewed about the contact by anyone in the District Attorney’s Office. His emails or his voicemails pertaining to the public administrator case were never reviewed by anyone in the office to see if the claims of inappropriate contact could be verified, he said.
Unbeknown to Spitzer, the same public administrator case Spitzer had been looking into had been brought to the attention of Supervisor John Moorlach’s office more than a week earlier. And that Assistant Public Administrator Peggi Buff had been corresponding with Moorlach’s office.
Buff also happens to be Rackauckas’ fiancé.
Rick Francis, Moorlach’s chief of staff, confirmed that he sent an e-mail to Public Administrator/Guardian John S. Williams on Aug. 16 asking about the status of the case.
Francis also confirmed that he received an email the following day, on Aug. 17, from Buff informing him that there was an investigation and that investigation was confidential.
At that point, Moorlach’s office stopped looking into the case, Francis said.
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