Anne Arundel police accessed a statewide criminal database to create dossiers that prosecutors said County Executive John R. Leopold ordered on his political rivals, according to police records released Wednesday.
The release of the documents follows the indictment this month of Leopold on charges that he misused his security detail to investigate his opponents and set up sexual liaisons with a county employee in Annapolis parking lots.
In response to a public records request by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Baltimore Sun, the police acknowledged that the department maintained folders with information from a statewide database restricted for legitimate law enforcement purposes.
Deborah A. Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland, said the response raises red flags because accessing the criminal database for political purposes and distributing the information would be illegal.
“It’s outrageous. This should not be happening in Maryland or anywhere when a public official is trying to gather dirt on his political opponents on the public dime,” Jeon said.
Leopold’s attorney, Bruce Marcus, said it would be “inappropriate” to comment because the criminal case is ongoing.
The approximately 50 pages of documents include information about Leopold’s 2010 campaign rival, Democrat Joanna Conti, and her husband Peter; former Anne Arundel County council member Thomas Redmond; and Carl O. Snowden, a longtime county activist who leads the civil rights division of the state Attorney General’s office.
In general, Jeon said the documents include information easily accessible to the public and typical of political opposition research, such as real estate holdings and news reports. But the police department says in its response that it is withholding records on Redmond from the Maryland Criminal Justice Information system because the law “restricts the dissemination of criminal history information.”
Attorneys for Leopold and the Office of the State Prosecutor, which led the investigation, are scheduled to meet before a judge next week to set a trial schedule.