By Adam Pagnucco.
Earlier today, we published a piece noting that an associate with the law firm Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C. requested the county’s email lists. The post contained an important error: the firm did in fact identify its client in its request letter to the county. Law firm member Joseph E. Sandler wrote the following to us this morning:
Your piece in Seventh State regarding our law firm’s Public Information Act request for e-mail records, submitted to Montgomery County, is flat-out inaccurate. County law requires that a lawyer submitting such a request on behalf of a client disclose the client—Empower Montgomery– and Ms. Krupke did so, in her letter, of copy of which is attached. The County website did not list the client but Ms. Krupke’s letter did disclose it. Apparently you didn’t bother to check the letter itself. Please run an immediate retraction/correction. Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter.
When your author requested that Mr. Sandler cite the section of state or county law requiring attorney disclosure of clients when making Public Information Act (PIA) requests, he replied, “Our view is that we were required, by the rules of legal ethics, to disclose the client in these circumstances. We do not believe it is required by state or county law.”
Sandler’s firm did in fact disclose the client in their PIA request. The request itself did not appear on the county’s website. We were wrong in implying that the firm intended to protect the identity of the client. We reprint the request letter below.
Empower Montgomery, the client requesting the emails, is an advocacy group whose co-founders are real estate executives Charlie Nulsen and Chris Bruch, former health care executive David Blair and former County Council Member Steve Silverman. Blair has been mentioned as a possible candidate for County Executive twice in the Washington Post. Silverman was once the Director of the county’s Department of Economic Development and is now a registered lobbyist with both the county and the state.
We apologize to Mr. Sandler and his firm for implying in our original post that their Public Information Act request was intended to conceal the identity of their client. That was clearly wrong. Even so, the news that a rumored potential County Executive candidate and a registered lobbyist with business before the county are now in possession of the county’s email lists is interesting in and of itself.