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Wade Campaign Also Sought Contributions of Prosecutors

Politics: The assistant district attorney had severely criticized rival for similar fund-raising. He said he was unaware of own campaign's mailers.

May 09, 1998|JEAN O. PASCO and GREG HERNANDEZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A month after blasting his opponent in the district attorney's race for seeking campaign money from county prosecutors, Assistant Dist. Atty. Wallace J. Wade has admitted that his campaign has done the same thing.

Wade, who vowed he wouldn't seek funds from those who might be working for him as Orange County's top prosecutor, said late Thursday that his campaign made a mistake. He said he wouldn't accept any money from employees in his office.

Last month, he severely criticized opponent Anthony Rackauckas Jr., a Superior Court judge on leave while campaigning, for soliciting contributions from district attorney employees who would be reporting to him should he win the June 2 election.

Earlier this week, Wade reiterated his stance, saying employee solicitation amounts to intimidation. He said Thursday he was unaware that his own solicitation mailers had been sent to employees at the county office.

"I don't know how the office addresses got on the mailer and I will talk to the [campaign] people about that," Wade said of the letters, many addressed to individuals in care of "Office of the District Attorney."

A four-page letter included in the mailer contained a disclaimer in small print at the end, stating: "The Wade campaign will not accept campaign contributions from Orange County District Attorney personnel."

Rackauckas said he was skeptical that employees could have received Wade's fund-raising appeal at the office without Wade knowing about it.

"If he didn't, he very easily could have made sure they didn't get [the solicitation]," Rackauckas said. "This is not the first time Wally is saying one thing and doing another."

In March, Wade challenged Rackauckas to return contributions from office prosecutors and investigators that the judge collected from two fund-raisers, one of which included senior prosecutors on a host committee for an event featuring victims' rights advocate Fred Goldman.

Wade accused his opponent of "arm twisting" by pressuring potential employees to donate.

Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren's office, which received an anonymous complaint about the fund-raisers, ruled this month that Rackauckas did nothing wrong. Lungren determined that office-holders and candidates can solicit money from employees they may end up supervising as long as it is part of a larger solicitation to "a significant segment of the public."

Wade bristled at any comparison of his situation to Rackauckas' solicitation.

"I've done everything right on this," he said. "I don't know how anybody can compare them. Tony openly listed D.A.'s on his host committee and it has divided this office. That's what it's done."

Rackauckas raised $22,410 from 62 prosecutors and investigators in the office, according to March 31 campaign reports. He is endorsed by the Assn. of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys and the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, which represents office investigators.

Wade is endorsed by Dist. Atty. Mike Capizzi, who is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general.

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