HARFORD COUNTY, MD — Harford County Executive Robert Cassilly could face more legal battles after Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healey said in a Monday news conference in Bel Air that she planned to seek a judge’s order requiring Cassilly’s administration to provide access to emails of a key employee who is on emergency family leave. Healey added that she also plans to ask for “millions of dollars” to be used to move her office’s email system off of the Harford County system.
“I quite frankly don’t want to be involved in the political infighting,” Healey said. “I just want to do my job. These actions directly correlate to my ability to run my office and do my job. He’s flat out denying me access to data that belongs to this office.”
Healey, in an interview with Maryland Matters, said she made the request last week after an unnamed top employee took emergency leave. Healey said Cassilly denied her request and linked it to aninvolving his own access to emails belonging to County Councilman Aaron Penman (R) and others.
“The person that I am seeking emails for is an employee of mine who works here,” said Healey. “This is for the necessary function of our office, to run our office. These emails include invoices, contracts, personnel actions and state and federal grant correspondence that simply cannot be ignored for any period of time, let alone the extended period of time we are facing at this time.”
Healey said she believes Cassilly and Harford County Attorney Jefferson Blomquist are refusing to grant access to the emails “in retaliation for my referral of a recent investigation into their conduct,” she said.
This summer, County Council memberafter Cassilly had asked for communication to Penman’s government email address.
Healey referred the matter to the Office of the State Prosecutor. She said Monday she believes Cassilly’s withholding of her employee’s records is retaliation for the referral.
Not being able to access the emails “prohibits me, prohibits us from being able to do everyday functions if we don’t get them. His requests, however, were email communications of other elected officials and private citizens, people who are not employed by him,” she said.
Healey was briefly involved earlier this year in what was then an evolvingfrom Penman, Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler (R) and others. She ultimately turned the matter over to the Office of the State Prosecutor out of concern about potential conflicts of interest and a desire to remain above accusations of political gamesmanship.
“This has nothing to do with politics,” said Healey.
According to her, Cassilly is blocking her access unless she says what he did wasn’t illegal, WMAR reports.
“The Cassilly administration believes I should’ve made a prosecutorial determination to their political benefit even though it would’ve been unethical and a violation of my oath of office,” said Healey.
Healey said she plans to ask a Harford County Circuit Court judge to require Cassilly’s administration to provide the emails her office is seeking. That could come as soon as this week, she said. Healey also plans to ask the Harford County Council for funds to pay for an email server and technical staff. That request will take longer, she said.
“This is a hit job,” Cassilly told Maryland Matters about Healey’s claims. “And I think it’s unfortunate that we have a state’s attorney and a county council member, both misusing their offices to inflict political damage on the sitting county executive. It’s just regrettable to see that and that’s what this is.”
He also told reporters that Healey should have the passwords and login credentials of her employees. His statement contradicts county policy regarding email accounts that were released to Maryland Matters last week as part of a request under the Maryland Public Information Act. That county policy clearly states that county employees are to “keep passwords secure and do not share email accounts.” County policy outlined in those documents do not mention nor require employees to share passwords and other credentials with their supervisors. All county employees are required to sign a written acknowledgement of the county policy.
Cassilly accused Healey of wasting taxpayer time and money and of a double standard. He said if it’s illegal for him, he can’t allow her to do the same, WBAL reported.
“She wanted to try to embarrass me, and I was starting to make her look bad,” Cassilly told WBAL. “The simplest solution is here is she’s engaging in poor office management. Why doesn’t Alison Healey have the passwords for her key employees? She says this is a key employee. Why would you not have the password for that the employee?”
Cassilly did try to talk with Healey after the press conference, WMAR reported, but when he left her office, the two apparently hadn’t reached an agreement.