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Orange County D.A. Chief Of Staff To Disclose Potential Conflicts Of Interest

Chief of Staff Susan Shroeder is required by the Orange County District Attorney's Office to file financial statements that could reveal possible conflicts of interest.

After a formal complaint was filed by government watchdog Shirley Grindle, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ office announced in April it would require Schroeder to file the statements beginning this year.

County Counsel Nicholas Chrisos then prepared a report to the Board of Supervisors stating that Schroeder was legally required to file retroactively to 2010 – when Schroeder was promoted from public affairs counsel to the newly created post of chief of staff – and that the board should officially issue that mandate.

When Rackauckas’ office caught wind of that recommendation last week, it voluntarily agreed to provide the information retroactively and eliminated the need for supervisors to take up the issue, according to Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Lubinski.

Lubinski said he didn’t know when Schroeder’s documents would be available.

“She’s trying to get stuff done,” he said. “She’s trying to get as much together as possible.”

The conflict-of-interest statement, known as Form 700, details high-ranking public employees’ land and stock holdings, sources of income and other financial interests. Most of an employee’s spouses interests are typically required to be listed as well.

The state requirement is intended to ensure that employees influencing government decisions disclose any potential financial benefit, that could be considered

conflicts of interest, from those decisions.

Until the April announcement that it updated its policy, the department required Rackauckas and 20 other top officials to file. That could now expand to all 275 attorneys in the office, depending on the opinion of Chrisos and the Board of Supervisors, Lubinski said.

Some political observers are as interested in the financial interests of Schroeder’s ex-husband, Mike Schroeder, as they are in Susan Schroeder’s. A wealthy attorney and former chairman of the state Republican Party, Mike Schroeder is a political insider who has been Rackauckas’ campaign chairman since Rackauckas was first elected.

Mike Schroeder, whose divorce became official last year, declined comment on Susan Schroeder’s pending Form 700 paperwork.

Susan Schroeder’s own business interests include a music promotion business.

Grindle’s complaint was filed on the heels of an article by the Voice of OC website raising questions over why Schroeder had not been required to file Form 700s. Grindle said her concerns were not raised by any particular financial interest of Schroeder, but rather by the simple fact that the information had not been made available.

“Why hadn’t she filed?” Grindle said. “It appeared that Rackauckas and Schroeder intentionally avoided disclosing the financial interests of her and Mike Schroeder.”

The level of disclosure of Mike Schroeder’s interests remains to be seen, as only community property and community income must be disclosed. If he had property, retirement accounts or income that Susan Schroeder did not benefit from, it would likely not require disclosure.

Originally posted by Martin Wisckol on ocregister.com.

Conflicts of Interest - Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney - Los Angeles

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