E-mails Appear to Back Prosecutor's Statements
Sunday, November 4, 2007
James E. Plowman, Loudoun County's top prosecutor, released six pages of e-mails last week that appear to corroborate his assertions that he did not improperly leak information about a former state Senate candidate to the candidate's political opponents.
The e-mails were turned over in response to a request filed by Leesburg lawyer John P. Flannery under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act. Flannery has mounted a last-minute write-in campaign against Plowman (R), who is seeking reelection Tuesday as Loudoun commonwealth's attorney.
Flannery had requested that Plowman turn over his communications with political foes of former state Senate candidate Mark D. Tate. In May, Tate was indicted by a grand jury on 11 felony charges related to his campaign finance filings. Plowman initiated the investigation into Tate's records despite having endorsed Tate's opponent in the June Republican primary, Warrenton lawyer Jill Holtzman Vogel. He then turned over the case to a special prosecutor.
Last month, a judge dismissed the charges at the special prosecutor's request. The prosecutor said the case was too tainted by the allegations of improprieties by Plowman's office and vowed to bring the case back to a new grand jury.
The material Plowman turned over Monday includes several e-mails between him and Laurie LeTourneau, a volunteer for Holtzman Vogel's campaign. Plowman has said it was LeTourneau who first brought Tate's flawed campaign finance reports to his attention, which appears to be corroborated by the e-mails.
In one note, Plowman asks LeTourneau to direct all questions to the special prosecutor because "it's officially his case and he is (and has been) making all of the decisions since mid-April." In another, LeTourneau stresses that her actions were not on behalf of any campaign.
Flannery said the e-mails appear to have been written with the intent of exonerating Plowman. He also said there appear to be gaps in the correspondence between Plowman and LeTourneau, which suggests that their communications continued orally.
"Some of these e-mails seem calculated for publication," Flannery said. "I think that the e-mails are clues to an unfavorable conclusion, which is prosecutorial misconduct."
Flannery also said he believes Plowman deleted some e-mails. He called on the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Plowman's office improperly leaked information about the Tate case.
Plowman, however, wrote in his response to Flannery's FOIA request that the correspondence was innocent.
"I trust that you will impart the innocent nature of these communications to the news media with the same level of hype that you employed" in making the request, Plowman wrote.