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D.A. to Send O.C. Sheriff's Aide Inquiry to State, Citing Conflicts

May 27, 1999

Orange County Dist. Atty. Anthony J. Rackauckas announced Wednesday that his office would not investigate claims of possible election campaign violations made against a top aide of Sheriff Mike Carona, but would refer the matter to the state attorney general's office.

Carona had asked the district attorney to examine allegations that Assistant Sheriff Donald G. Haidl offered to raise money for Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters' campaign for sheriff last year in return for a position on Walters' staff should he be elected. Haidl, who denies the claim, went on to raise funds for Carona's campaign.

In deciding to refer the matter, Rackauckas said the case would present "an appearance of a conflict of interest" for his office. The chief of his investigation bureau, Don Blankenship, worked as a sergeant for the Santa Ana Police Department and then as the president of the Santa Ana Police Officers Assn.

Blankenship, the district attorney's statement said, spoke with Walters around the time of the alleged incident, and could "become a potential witness in this matter."

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