“Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is calling for the formation of a public integrity unit to respond to what he calls “the growing number of complaints and investigations of crimes involving people holding public office,” according to the Voice of OC.
Rackauckas explained this funding request in a public Agenda Staff Report. Here are a few excerpts:
Section 26500 of the California Government Code mandates the District Attorney to initiate and conduct, on behalf of the people, prosecutions of criminal conduct. Over the last several years, complaints and investigations of crimes involving people holding public office have steadily increased. Additionally, the Office received increased complaints that allege the County and/or County employees may be victim(s) of crimes. Some specific type of crimes, include, but are not limited to: illegal or inappropriate use of public funds; bribery; election and campaign violations; conflicts of interest; malfeasance in office; Grand Jury matters; and Brown Act.
The types of crimes outlined above currently are being investigated by attorneys and investigators assigned to the Special Prosecutions/Special Assignments Units. In addition to the public integrity case responsibilities, both Special Prosecutions and Special Assignments Units are assigned a myriad of responsibilities that are time sensitive and involve specialized knowledge. Examples of those responsibilities include: Officer Involved Shootings; Custodial Deaths; International Extraditions; Interstate Extraditions; “Lifer” Parole Hearings; Public Record Act (PRA) Requests; Mental Health Commitments for Criminal Defendants; Arson; Hate Crimes; Grand Jury Coordinator; Professional Crimes by Doctors and Lawyers; Subpoenas; Police Officer Conduct Cases; and “Brady” Oversight. The caseload assigned to the attorneys and investigators in the Special Prosecutions and Special Assignments Units have increased substantially over the last several years. At this point, the caseloads have reached an unmanageable level.
To effectively manage this sustained workload and handle these wide range of cases and increased caseload, each of them very unique and technical, it is necessary to designate a Public Integrity Team within the Special Prosecutions/Special Assignments Units to focus exclusively on a wide spectrum of misconduct, including all forms of public corruption. This request supplements staff in the Special Prosecutions/Special Assignments Units; there is no change in reporting relationships, authority or functions. The District Attorney Public Integrity Team will be supervised by the Special Prosecutions Unit Assistant District Attorney.
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 citizens also expect that all necessary steps will be taken to protect County resources from theft and corruption. It is the goal of the District Attorney to ensure that public officials, and their subordinates, fulfill their required obligations. Therefore, the Office requests your Honorable Board’s approval to establish the District Attorney Public Integrity Team comprised of seven (7) prosecutorial, investigative, and support staff positions referenced in the Recommended Action.
This is quite a departure for Rackauckas but I am glad he is doing this. The County has repeatedly been embarrassed this year, particularly after the arrest of former Orange County middle manager Carlos Bustamante, for various felony harassment and sex crime charges, and the recent accusations of harassment involving Orange County Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly.
This matter will be discussed at tomorrow’s Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting.