The state ACLU sharply criticized Anne Arundel County on Friday, claiming that it failed to release files related to an "enemies list" or political "dossiers" allegedly compiled by members of County Executive John R. Leopold's security detail — though the county says it has made public everything it can under the law.
In a lengthy response to an open-records request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, the county said it had conducted an "exhaustive search" that did not result in "the identification of any additional files, or 'dossiers' on the specific individuals identified in your requests."
"No records were identified that indicate the existence of, or relate to, an 'Enemies List' as has been suggested by some to have been compiled by anyone in the office of the county executive or anyone in the police department," the letter states.
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David Rocah, an attorney at the ACLU, criticized the county's response, calling it a "cover-up," and "unacceptable."
The county acknowledged that the executive detail maintained "30 files and three sets of other loose records" on "individuals and groups" that were maintained for "law enforcement investigative purposes."
Rocah was particularly critical of a passage in the letter that said the county found "no additional records of files (additional to those already produced) … other than those that pertain to the pending criminal proceedings undertaken by the State Prosecutor's Office."
Rocah said he believes that means the county has more files but won't release them. County officials declined to offer further explanation.
"The county is in cover-up mode," said Rocah. "Their own words say there are dossiers on at least 33 people. In addition to that, there are records about the creation of those dossiers, and they say that there are records about the named individuals in our request. …They are falsely claiming that because they may be evidence, they are not producing them."
The county released files this month alleged to be parts of dossiers on three people that Leopold directed his security detail to investigate. The county said then that it was withholding one record that was allegedly accessed through the state's criminal records database because it would be illegal to distribute.
Following that request, the ACLU and news outlets requested additional files on more than a dozen other prominent county residents, including schools Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell, County Councilman Jamie Benoit, and Annapolis MayorJoshua J. Cohen.
Leopold, a Republican, was indicted this month on charges that he ordered his taxpayer-funded security detail to perform personal and political errands, including directing the officers to assemble files on his opponents.
He has vowed to fight the charges and declined to comment through his spokesman Friday.