Maryland's American Civil Liberties Union has sued Anne Arundel County, its police department and indicted County Executive John Leopold for refusing to turn over files allegedly compiled by county police on Leopold's "enemies."
"The facts are clear that Anne Arundel County Executive Leopold ordered his executive detail and other county employees to try to dig up dirt on those he perceived as political rivals, as well as women who complained that he harassed or discriminated against them," said Deborah Jeon, legal director for Maryland's ACLU in a statement. "The time has come for Mr. Leopold and the County to come clean about how, why, and against whom these illegal activities were carried out."
Joanna Conti, a Cape St. Claire resident and a Democrat who ran for county executive against Leopold in 2010, was one of the many political enemies Leopold kept private files on.
The file on Conti included public information on a townhouse development she and her husband had invested in, and information on her husband's business.
Conti told The Baltimore Sun that Leopold should have hired his own campaign workers to track down information on political opponents, like she did during her own campaign against Leopold in 2010.
Leopold is set to stand trial in Circuit Court in January 2013 on charges of misconduct in office and fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary. An Anne Arundel County grand jury indicted Leopold in March 2012.
The state prosecutor's office alleges that Leopold used police officers to compile "dossiers" on his political opponents, drive him around the county to remove his opponent's campaign signs in 2010, and drive him to parking lots to meet women for sexual encounters.
About a week after the news of the Pasadena Republican's indictment broke, the ALCU filed the first of five public information requests in which it asked to see all the dossiers.
County police initially released three files: one on Carl Snowden, the civil rights director for Attorney General Douglas Gansler, one on Thomas Redmond, a former county councilman, and one on Conti.
The ALCU says that the county then stopped sharing its information.
"[The] plaintiffs have filed this lawsuit based on both the defendant's improper compilation of these dossiers and the defendant's improper denials of plantiffs' repeated requests for information under the MPIA," according to the complaint.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Snowden and Redmond as well as eight others: Jacqueline Allsup, Lewis Bracy, Karla Hamner, Joan Harris, Marvenise Harris, Eugene Peterson, Eric Scott, John Singleton and Mike Shay.
The ALCU disagrees with the contention made by the police department that further records cannot be released because they are evidence in the ongoing criminal prosecution of Leopold.
The ACLU argues that even if the records are evidence, they do not qualify as "investigatory records" because they were illegally compiled. The officers who compiled Leopold's dossiers allegedly used a statewide criminal history database, which Maryland only grants access to for official law enforcement purposes.
Broadneck Patch Editor D. Frank Smith contributed to this article.