ANAHEIM — Three months after bringing charges against a conservative political group for allegedly breaching a local campaign ordinance in a 1996 city council election, the city attorney here has handed the case to an independent prosecutor.
The prosecutor, former state Fair Political Practices Commission chair Ravi Mehta, was appointed last month to expand the investigation into allegations of similar campaign violations against other politicians and political groups involved in the 1996 city council race.
The decision by City Atty. Jack L. White was approved by the City Council on Tuesday, the same day some questioned whether Mehta has the legal authority to prosecute such charges at all.
Paul A. McCracken, a local attorney, told city officials Tuesday he will ask the Orange County district attorney's office to investigate Mehta's appointment. McCracken's wife, City Councilwoman Shirley McCracken, is one of the political officials Mehta has been hired to investigate.
The appointment of Mehta marks the first time in Anaheim history that a special prosecutor has been called in. The appointment occurred after conservatives on the council became angered when they said White investigated council candidates supported by Republicans without investigating those backed by Democrats.
In handing over the case against the Business and Taxpayers Good Government Committee, led by Stephen Sheldon, until recently spokesman of the Anaheim-based Traditional Values Coalition, White is washing his hands of the entire political probe. Sheldon and others have denied any wrongdoing.
"It's really best, in my view, that one person handles all the allegations," White said.