ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)– Subpoenaed. One of the most powerful politicians in Maryland—John Leopold—is under fire again. The Anne Arundel County executive is at the center of an investigation by the state prosecutor’s office into how he has been using his county-paid security detail.
Derek Valcourt explains the controversy.
Police officers routinely provide security for the county executive, including driving him places. But at issue here: did he ask them to run personnel errands or errands on behalf of his campaign?
Leopold was slapped with a subpoena by the state prosecutor’s office Wednesday night.
Sources tell WJZ the state prosecutor’s office is looking into whether Leopold ordered the county police officers assigned to his security detail to pick up a $4,000 check to his campaign from the firefighters political action committee.
Leopold turned down WJZ’s request for an interview. A spokesman said he’d be in budget meetings all day, but says he is cooperating with the investigation.
Leopold admitted to WBAL Radio Wednesday he did ask an officer to run the errand last year.
“During my campaign year, I was in excruciating pain from two back operations and could not physically drive an automobile,” he said. “I came to work every day and during the course of my campaign I asked that this check be picked up. As I said, I had over a thousand campaign donations and this one check unfortunately was not picked up by me personally as it should be.”
Attorney Jonathan Singleton says he’s trying to work out an immunity deal allowing the officers to provide information to the state prosecutor’s office without facing punishment.
“The security detail job is to help protect the public official not to help the public official get elected,” said legal expert Andrew Levy.
Levy says the state prosecutor will have to decide whether Leopold’s requests for his security team are worthy of prosecution.
“If all that occurred is what has been reported in the newspaper, it’s very difficult to believe that this would be prosecuted. If on the other hand this is one of a pattern of conduct, then there is a greater likelihood that there might be a prosecution,” Levy said.
Leopold contends the entire controversy is retaliation from union members who he says have buyers remorse over their decision to support him after he recently pushed through a bill changing the county’s binding arbitration agreement –giving the county council final say in labor disputes with the union.
“If, in fact, the firefighters’ union had a legitimate concern a year ago, they could have brought it up at that point. But they did not,” Leopold said.
The state prosecutor’s office refuses to confirm or even comment on the alleged investigation.
Attorneys for several of the officers assigned to Leopold’s security detail declined to comment for the story.