Batti interviewed Chief Deputy District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe in response to allegations made by Atherton resident Jon Buckheit. She reported:
"Regarding Mr. Buckheit's claim that because his lawsuit names the county, the district attorney shouldn't be involved in the investigation, Mr. Wagstaffe said, 'If we had a legal conflict, we would withdraw.' Opinions issued by the state attorney general support the involvement of the district attorney under the circumstances, he said."
In the same article, Wagstaffe is quoted as saying that "Mr. Buckheit's 'facts are just wrong' ".
Enter John Johns, CPA. Having developed an eagle eye for the stretching of the truth during his own multi-year ordeal of being persecuted by Wagstaffe and the Atherton Police Department, Johns dispatched a public records request to the county, asking for the Attorney General opinions Wagstaffe relied on to determine no conflict existed.
The response? The Almanac misreported Wagstaffe.
In a letter to Johns dated May 10, Deputy County Counsel Paul Okada wrote: "the Almanac...was inaccurate. My understanding is that no Attorney General opinions, whether formal or informal, were referenced by Mr. Wagstaffe. Rather, Mr. Wagstaffe was referring generally to the process by which a District Attorney's office could obtain opinions regarding potential conflicts of interest and recusal from the State Attorney General".
Did the Almanac get it wrong? Or was Mr. Wagstaffe simply assuming that in a county in which no large newspaper exists to do rigorous fact checking on every statement, he could shuck and jive his way through the interview? It is important to remember that Batti asked him to respond to Buckheit's assertion that he had a conflict of interest, and had he merely stated processes existed to determine whether that assertion was true, it certainly would not have amounted to the denial that was reported.
More and more, the man who as Chief Deputy District Attorney (and, running unopposed, about to become District Attorney) is supposed to be smack at the center of the legal truth, is finding himself on the borders of it.
For his part, Johns has dispatched another public records request asking for any documents evidencing Wagstaffe actually exercising the process Okada refers to.