Orange County Assembly candidate Tom Daly has been cleared in a sexual misconduct investigation, the first such investigation of a ranking county employee since the arrest earlier this year of Carlos Bustamante.
Daly, who is the county-recorder and the former mayor of Anaheim, was accused of "sexual misconduct, favoritism and cronyism" in an anonymous letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times and other media.
An independent investigator hired by the county, however, concluded the allegations were unfounded.
"There is no evidence to substantiate any of the allegations," county human resources Director Steve Danley said in a memo.
Daly, in a statement released by the county, said the anonymous complaint was "simply a pathetic attempt to smear me."
"While the lies of the anonymous complainer are appalling, so is the unnecessary waste of tax dollars spent on this investigation," Daly said.
The county's more-aggressive approach to probing anonymous complaints came on the heels of Bustamante's arrest on suspicion of sexually assaulting female workers in his county office.
It took nearly a year for law enforcement investigators to be alerted to the allegations against Bustamante. The case was initially handed off to one of his subordinates and then farmed out to a law firm, which prepared a report that the county filed away and few saw.
Bustamante, a Santa Ana councilman who has resisted calls for his resignation, had pleaded not guilty.
Daly was critical of the weight given to anonymous complaints in his case.
"The county government's system for anonymous complaints is too easily used as a tool for smear tactics," he said in a prepared statement. "It's also flawed because it does not protect the legitimate privacy of innocent, hard-working employees, while it protects the anonymous accusers."
Times staff writer Steve Marble contributed to this report.