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Riverside County’s top election official resigns, agrees to nearly $800K settlement

Riverside County agreed to a nearly $800,000 settlement with Rebecca Spencer following her resignation as the county's top elections official. 

The county accepted Spencer's resignation as Registrar on Friday, Sept. 29, county spokesperson Brooke Federico confirmed.

More: RivCo board OKs contract with new vendor for elections, despite reservations

Spencer has been with the Registrar of Voter's office since 2001 and held the top position since 2014.

Federico said Art Tinoco, the Assistant Registrar of Voters, will be assuming the duties of the Interim Registrar, subject to confirmation by the Board of Supervisors. Tinoco has been with the ROV’s office since 2002.

"The County intends to conduct a recruitment for the permanent position of Registrar of Voters. The department continues to serve our residents and prepare for upcoming elections through the work of our dedicated staff at the Registrar of Voters," Federico wrote.

Neither the county nor Spencer have confirmed the reasons behind her resignation. Spencer was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 13, Federico confirmed.

Statement from Spencer's attorneys:

“Rebecca Spencer`s attorney, Sanford A. Kassel, has confirmed that Rebecca Spencer has been a tremendous asset to the County of Riverside throughout her employment as the ROV and in the Registrar of Voters` Office for nearly 25 years and will be greatly missed. Mr. Kassel confirmed that his client, Rebecca Spencer, has agreed to resign from her position as the Registrar of Voters and the parties have agreed to a mutually very satisfactory Settlement Agreement.”

There were some notable issues between Spencer and the county that we've reported on over the past three years.

In early 2021, she accused District Attorney Mike Hestrin of voter suppression during the 2020 election. Spencer wrote in an email to the board of supervisors in January 2021, "I should be able to do my job free of political intimidation, interference, and retaliation..."

Hestrin told News Channel 3 a week after our report that it was "a misunderstanding."

"Well, I mean, the District Attorney's Office has taken no actions whatsoever to in any way. Get involved in the handling of elections, we only, we only look after the fact. So, you know, we're not talking about us interfering in any current election, after the elections, we go back and look at what happened. And if there's a crime to be filed we file a crime, if there's not a crime to be filed and we find a flaw or a potential vulnerability. We bring that to the attention of county officials that that have the authority to run our elections. That's all we've ever done. And so I think on its face. Our actions are are appropriate.

- DA Hestrin told Peter Daut (3/11/21)

In Dec. 2022, the Board of Supervisors cited some problems during the Nov. 8 election, promising further inquiries.

"There were some challenges," said Supervisor Karen Spigel, who also serves on the board's Ad-Hoc Election Integrity Committee. "We want to ensure everyone that we're going to work on this."

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