By David M. Greenwald
As LA Times reporter James Queally put it in a tweet, “The D.A. of increasingly purple Orange County, who is facing a progressive challenger in 2022, appearing on hard-right/fact-allergic Newsmax is certainly … a choice?”
He added, “Ain’t here to referee people’s media choices, but seems an odd political choice considering where these people are (or could be) running campaigns.”
Former Republican Assemblymember Todd Spitzer was elected in 2018 to the Orange County DA’s office as a reformer, but he has been increasingly under fire for his failures to reform his office, under seize with successive scandals.
His problems have brought out a potentially solid challenger in Pete Hardin, a former Marine prosecutor who is criticizing Spitzer’s conduct and others who have accused him of far worse.
Last week, he appeared on the right wing Newsmax. And tweeted his nearly two-minute engagement on the show: “Liberal prosecutors taking weak stance on crime.”
Thank you to @stinchfield1776 and the entire @Newsmax team for having me on to discuss my commitment to ensuring Orange County and our entire nation remains a safe place to live, work, and raise a family! pic.twitter.com/euxZgML2uq
— Todd Spitzer (@toddspitzeroc) April 16, 2021
Spitzer tweeted, “Thank you to @stinchfield1776 and the entire @Newsmax team for having me on to discuss my commitment to ensuring Orange County and our entire nation remains a safe place to live, work, and raise a family!”
The commentator Stinchfield lays out the red meat: “I’m concerned it’s not just you, that they’re moving into the suburbs with this Soros-style DA system that’s just weak on crime.” Monday Morning Thoughts: Orange DA Takes His Show to Newsmax
Taking the bait, Spitzer says, “Look what George Gascon did in San Francisco. We have 38,000 people leaving San Francisco after he was the district attorney… Crime is out of control in Los Angeles.”
He then attacked his opponent, Hardin, “They recruited someone to Orange County who hasn’t been in Orange County very long. He’s a criminal attorney. His campaign office in downtown Los Angeles. His campaign manager and consultant are in Los Angeles – and he has already announced exactly the same lines as George Gascon. No bail. No death penalty. No enhancements.”
“He said, you take Boulder, Colorado, you don’t think when you’re a mass murderer you should be considered for the death penalty?” he said seeming to forget that Colorado ended the death penalty and California has effectively ended it as well. “What about Atlanta, Georgia?”
He continued, “They backed a truck into Orange County to deliver this guy and now they’re clanking champagne glasses, in Orange County, those prisoners that we delivered into prison in Orange County are celebrating tonight.”
It’s a strange transition for Todd Spitzer.
When he first announced, he stated, “I refuse to stand by as Tony Rackauckas destroys the District Attorney’s office and uses it as his own personal fiefdom for him and his cronies while the public’s safety suffers.”
Last year he told the media, “Trying to restore the integrity of the office is not easy. If we’re going to run a system the public trusts, we’ve got to abide by the rules.”
But, increasingly, supporters have said, he is no better than his predecessor.
“Todd Spitzer staked his entire campaign on reform, but at this point it feels like a bait and switch,” said Laura Fernandez, a senior Liman Fellow in Residence at Yale Law School and a national expert on prosecutorial misconduct.
Fernandez continued: “Instead of the transformation he promised, moving the OCDA toward transparency and accountability, what we’ve seen from Spitzer is the preservation and, in effect, validation of the very system he railed against as a candidate.”
Indeed, in addition to the evidence scandal, his office has been racked by complaints about sexual harassment and other favoritism.
Moreover, he has now moved to the hard right as embodied by his appearance on Newsmax, where he attacks George Gascón and his opponent by extension.
In a tweet, Hardin responded, “Rather than focus on the pressing issues confronting Orange County, DA Todd Spitzer spends his days fear mongering on Newsmax.”
Hardin in a statement to the Vanguard added, “Appearances on a network renowned for being truth-adverse is disqualifying, as the District Attorney must seek the truth at all costs. There’s no justice in the absence of truth, and this DA’s desire to be in the spotlight is an impediment to the fair administration of justice in Orange County.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting
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