"The laws these men pleaded guilty to were enacted by the Legislature," Capizzi said. "If [Rohrabacher] doesn't like the laws, maybe he should call up his favorite legislator and have them repealed."
When it comes to ferreting out political corruption, Capizzi has etched a substantial record--against Democrats and Republicans alike. As a staff prosecutor in the late 1970s, Capizzi posted some 40 convictions for public corruption charges, including convictions against two county supervisors and a former congressman.
Since becoming district attorney in 1990, Capizzi has continued the focus. The biggest hit: Three years ago, County Supervisor Don R. Roth resigned amid an investigation into alleged influence peddling and pleaded guilty to seven misdemeanors.
"I think the prosecutions against public officials have been somewhat evenly distributed among the political parties," said Loren DuChesne, chief of the office's bureau of investigation.
While Capizzi earns praise in some quarters, others criticize him for occasionally pursuing the trivial with felony-like zeal.
Some of the charges filed by Capizzi's office against elected officials could have been handled in civil proceedings by the Fair Political Practices Commission. When former Brea Mayor Ronald Isles resigned from office in 1992, he compared Capizzi's prosecutors to "Sherman marching to the sea"--a reference to the Civil War general who burned everything in his path.
Capizzi's focus--and the criticism--continue today. In December, a grand jury charged Orange County Supervisors William G. Steiner and Roger R. Stanton and Auditor-Controller Steve E. Lewis with official misconduct. All are Republicans.
The three officials are asking a judge to disqualify Capizzi's office from prosecuting the case. They contend that Capizzi has inherent conflicts of interest stemming from his actions both before and after the bankruptcy. A decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John W. Ouderkirk is pending.
After the Baugh case blows over, Capizzi may find that advancing politically becomes trickier.
State GOP Chairman John Herrington, asked about Capizzi's political future last week, seemed not even sure who he was.
"I've never met the man," he said.
Capizzi says he's unbothered by the criticism. And he's staying mum on his future political plans.
"I don't assume facts not in evidence," he said.