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ACLU files for information on county executive's spending

Friday - 3/16/2012, 1:18pm  ET

Max Smith, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is filing new public information act requests Friday, after getting information earlier this week that indicated police officers and staff researched Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold's political opponents.

Already accused of using police officers to guard his sexual liaisons on county time, these are new details about the files Leopold kept on his political opponents.

"The only thing that was unusual, so far in the documents released, was that apparently there were documents from the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System," the ACLU of Maryland's Meredith Curtis tells WTOP.

County police declined to release any of that information under the initial public information request on behalf of the ACLU and Carl Snowden. Snowden is the director of the Maryland Attorney General's Office of Civil Rights.

"Police have access to that system, but only for legitimate law-enforcement purposes, not for the purpose of doing political research on rivals," she adds.

Curtis says much of the other information, which police did release, is typical political opposition research.

"The targets are both Democrats and Republicans. What seems to be the only theme so far is that they were perceived political rivals by Leopold," she says.

Friday's new public information requests are on behalf of a number of current and former candidates for elected office in Anne Arundel County, School Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, Anne Arundel County NAACP President Jacqueline Boone Allsup, and two women who sued Leopold for sexual discrimination.

The ACLU is calling for a county investigation into both Leopold and Police Chief James Teare.

"The evidence strongly suggests that Mr. Leopold compelled police and county staff to conduct political opposition research on the taxpayers' dime, and that he might even have ordered police to improperly access a criminal history database to dig up dirt on his political rivals," the ACLU of Maryland's legal director, Deborah Jeon says in a statement.

Leopold has not commented.

A scheduling conference is set for next week in the criminal case against Leopold for misconduct in office and fraudulent misappropriation by fiduciary.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)