Murdock Throws First Sweet Nasty Pitch at Rackauckas in DA’s Race


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(Ed. Note: I’m really burying the lede on this one; be sure to read the part of this piece in an orange font — plus the last section on an easily missed big aspect of Murdock’s pitch, and what it all means for this year’s election season. – GAD)

“Can’t anyone in the OCDA’s office play this game?”

1. The OC District Attorney’s Race is Heating Up!

I’m going to enjoy watching the Orange County District Attorney’s race this year a lot more than I did four years ago, when I ran as a sort of human ice-breaker to chip away the mystique of what was then the almost two-decades unchallenged Trump-like incompetent incumbent Tony Rackauckas.

Watching the chaotic Todd Spitzer take shots at Racky — I refuse to refer to him as “T-Rack” like he’s some rap star, though I would consider “Li’l Clusterrack” — will have its moments, but it seems like for the most part it will be about general chest-pounding about who can be harsher on Latino youth and the homeless, which  is much less satisfying.  Besides, I know too many Republicans whose eyes bug out when I say that if push came to shove I’d vote for the Spitzoid over Li’l Racky — just to clear the muck out of the stable and let it fill up with a different scented and less ossified muck — to feel confident that he would win a one-on-one contest in the runoff, and that takes some of the fun out of it.  But I am really going to enjoy watching the third candidate, Democrat Brett Murdock, run the sort of campaign that I would have liked to run four years ago, given the money (and added experience and abaence of attacks from my own party.)  Murdock came out with his first email blast at Racky today — and it is very satisfying indeed.  The boldface emphasis is mine:

The current District Attorney has done it again.

In 4 years Oscar Moriel, an admitted gangster and 6 time murderer, will once again be walking the streets of Orange County as part of a deal made by the District Attorney’s office. Failure to prosecute such a heinous criminal threatens our community and only emboldens gang violence. You can learn more about this case here.

The current DA has been in office for almost 20 years. Mistake after mistake after mistake has proven that he is no longer competent to keep Orange County safe. We need a stronger and more consistent approach regarding gang violence. As District Attorney, I will set a zero-tolerance policy toward gang violence in addition to working with community leaders in their efforts to provide alternative paths for at-risk youth.

We can win this! I just need a little bit of help.

…  [I’m removing Murdock’s fundraising pitch, as this is journalism and not a campaign contribution; his website, if you’re interested. is http://brettmurdock.com.  I’m not even making that a live link!]

That link, unsurprisingly, is to a Scott Moxley story in the Weekly entitled “Orange County DA Makes Sweetheart Deal Returning Serial Killer to the Streets,” about the OCDA’s office rewarding serial murderer Moriel for “betraying his Delhi criminal street gang as well as the Mexican Mafia, and turning into a paid confidential jailhouse informant who aided federal and state law-enforcement officials in winning convictions against mob bosses.”

We’ll get back to Murdock’s pitch soon, but it’s time for a brief aside having nothing to do with Murdock and everything to do with how stupid Racky’s top aide Susan Kang Schroeder’s PR sense is:

2. Why Racky Should Not Be Crowing Over Moriel’s Plea Deal

The DA’s office is loudly congratulating itself on obtaining Moriel’s assistance — and to some extent, who can blame them?  I’m no fan of violent street gangs or of the Mexican Mafia, and we should all recognize that jailhouse informants DO have a legitimate role to play in prosecutions, as occurs in jurisdictions across the nation and beyond.

HERE ARE THE DOTS THAT RACKY’S OFFICE HOPES THAT YOU WILL NOT CONNECT — DOTS THAT OJB IS HAPPY TO CONNECT FOR YOU!

As readers probably know, the DA’s office has been involved in a gigantic scandal over its improper use of jailhouse snitches, leading among other things to dismissal of the death penalty as a sentencing option for spree killer Scott Dekraai.  This was uncovered only through the extraordinary work of Public Defender Scott Sanders and his department, a degree of inspiration and effort that is not often present– perhaps including, for all I know, these very same prosecutions against the Mexican Mafia et al.

Now: unless, like the OCDA’s office, you want to pretend that the D.A.’s snitch scandal simply didn’t exist, this leaves one of two possibilities:

Possibility #1The DA’s Office took special care NOT to take the sort of liberties with Moriel’s employment as a snitch in the Delhi and Mexican Mafia cases that led to its blowing the Dekraii case.

Possibility #2The DA’s Office took NO special care against taking the sorts of liberties with Moriel’s employment as a snitch in the Delhi and Mexican Mafia cases that led to its blowing the Dekraii case — and it WAS JUST LUCKY that the same constitutional errors didn’t occur in those cases — OR it was just lucky that the opposing counsel wasn’t as good as finding and exploiting those errors as was Scott Sanders.

Either way, for the OCDA’s office to be celebrating the success of its use of a snitch — when for all we know the same errors that saved Scott Dekraii from execution  might have been used to prevent or reverse critical federal cases against drug cartels — is flabbergasting stupidity.  It’s like a doctor celebrating the success of a successful brain surgery done in an unlicensed and unclean hospital where several other of the doctor’s patients died of sepsis.  The difference is that using a snitch to get information — constitutionally, unless you are an idiot or a psychopath — is not brain surgery.  It’s a standard procedure, like a tracheotomy, that the public is entitled to expect that a professional will not screw up by, say, drilling an air hole to the throat from the back through the spine.

You don’t get credit just because THIS ONE CASE didn’t turn into a disaster thanks to your shoddy procedures!

Now, back to Murdock’s use of Moxley’s article:

3. Moxley’s Reminder: Racky Has Badly Screwed Up Plea Deals Before

Here’s the part of Moxley’s story, from the end, that I want to highlight, though (and, again, the highlighting is mine):

What could go wrong?

Rackauckas’ office, which hails itself as a “law and order” operation and amazingly held a self-congratulatory post-sentencing press conference with DA media flack and wannabe future DA Susan Kang Schroeder, should know.

It rewarded Daniel Escelara, another Mexican Mafia-tied killer turned government snitch in the 1980s. Despite his own violent crimes, Escelara didn’t spend even one day in prison. He was put back into the community, where his mayhem resumed with a robbery and a murder.

Perhaps the Escelara disaster is one reason Rackauckas stalled the Moriel sweetheart deal more than 70 times and then announced the pact on the Friday launching a Christmas weekend.

Note that this criticism of Racky is just the cherry on the top of the sundae.  Even if the OCDA’s office can defend itself in Escalera’s case, which may have been bad luck — although the postponements and burying of the story suggests that they were concerned it was otherwise — it doesn’t mean that the office should be crowing about the Moriel case.  Sometimes you get unlucky, sometimes you get lucky.  If you do you job correctly, you have less NEED to get lucky.

4. What Impresses Me Most About Murdock’s Attack

This is exactly the sort of thing that Rackauckas should be attacked over — one item on a long list — and it’s not clear to me that it’s the sort of thing on which Spitzer will attack him.  (Maybe he has done so in print, and if so I’ll amend this paragraph accordingly.)  But what impresses me about Murdock’s email blast isn’t as much its content as one other fact I’ve withheld until now:

Moxley’s story just came out on DECEMBER 22, 2017!

This was not, in other words, ammunition that had been stored somewhere in the back of Murdock’s armory.  This just happened!  And Murdock was on it, quickly and ferociously.

Today is one of the first days since then that one could put out a blast email and expect it to get noticed.  This suggests to me that not only will Murdock be dogging Rackauckas — and probably reading the Weekly closely in doing so; I hope he checks out the archives as well — but that he’ll be able and willing to put out some very rapid response.  Over the next ten months, that is exactly what is needed to defeat Rackauckas.  (Defeating Spitzer as well — well, that’s a topic for a different day.  But again, to me it’s priority #2.)

Spitzer — if he’s willing to challenge jailhouse snitchery user in reportedly successful prosecutions — would be wise to do the same.  Seeing Racky take hard fire over his abysmal record from two directions — that would be a recipe for a great year of political coverage!

[Disclaimer: my daughter’s political compliance firm has done work for Murdock in the past; I don’t know whether it is doing so this year or whether she’s personally involved in that work, if so.  Whether it is or not would not change this story or my opinion on this race.  I doubt that even my switching parties (or Murdock doing so) would affect it.  Bad government is bad, and getting rid of bad government is good, period.]


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)