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By Jordan Graham / Staff Writer
Updated Aug. 6, 2016 – 8:25 a.m.

The state’s political watchdog has launched an investigation into whether Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas violated the Political Reform Act by failing to report charitable donations he used his influence to solicit, and by approving public funds to be spent promoting his chief of staff’s business partner.

The investigation comes in response to a complaint that Orange County political watchdog Shirley Grindle filed on June 24 with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

“We are working with the FPPC to answer any questions they have in regard to this complaint,” Assistant Orange County District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said Friday.

The FPPC’s investigation does not suggest Rackauckas violated any law, only that there is sufficient evidence for the agency to begin an inquiry.

Grindle’s first complaint stems from an October 2014 fundraiser to support human-trafficking prosecution, organized and paid for by the D.A.’s office. During that event, Scott Foster, who at the time was a business partner of Rackauckas’ Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder, was a musical performer, according to promotional materials.

Grindle said giving Foster the gig amounted to promoting his musical career, which could in turn benefit Schroeder’s business.

Schroeder and Foster co-founded m3Connection, described on its website as a music marketing company. Their financial ties were largely unknown at the time, because Schroeder had not filed financial disclosure forms required of high-ranking government officials.

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