By Adam Pagnucco.
The law firm in this post identified its client as Empower Montgomery. Please read our follow-up and bear this in mind when reading further.
After Westbard activist Robert Lipman requested electronic copies of the email lists possessed by the offices of the County Executive and the County Council, others including Robin Ficker and a supposed Nigerian prince requested them too. But the most recent request for the emails is most interesting because it may protect the identity of the ultimate requester.
Jessica Krupke, an associate of Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C., has filed a Public Information Act (PIA) request with the county asking for a “complete list of esubscription email addresses and paperless airplane email addresses.” The county’s PIA website indicates that a response was posted on April 19 but it is not visible on opening. Sandler Reiff is a law firm specializing in campaign finance and election law. Why would they need more than 200,000 email addresses of county residents?
The PIA request on the county’s website.
It turns out that the firm, headed by former Democratic National Committee general counsel Joseph E. Sandler, has a long work history in Maryland. Sandler has represented former Council Member Duchy Trachtenberg and her former aide, Dana Beyer, in the past. State Board of Elections records show that Sandler Reiff has been paid by many campaign committees over the years, including those of former Governor Martin O’Malley, former Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, State Senator Will Smith (D-20), Delegate Ben Kramer (D-19), Prince George’s County Council Member Deni Taveras, the Maryland Democratic Senate Caucus Committee, the Maryland House Democratic Caucus Committee and other committees associated with labor unions and gambling interests. That may just scratch the surface of the firm’s relationships in Maryland.
Until now, while some candidates may covet the county’s email lists, the prospect of public condemnation has undoubtedly deterred at least a few of them from submitting PIA requests for the lists under their own names. (The PIA requests themselves are public records and subject to disclosure.) But if candidates can get a law firm like Sandler Reiff to obtain the emails on their behalf, they can dodge any scrutiny in obtaining the lists.
Pandora’s Box is now wide open.