A change of heart involving a request by the Harford County state’s attorney will keep County Executive Robert Cassilly (R) out of a potential court battle.
Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healey (R) threatened Monday to seek a court order that would require Cassilly to grant access to the email account of an employee of the prosecutor. Two days later, both sides appear to have reached an agreement.
“In an effort of good faith and yet another attempt to resolve this situation amicably and without additional burden to the citizens of Harford County, Ms. Healey reached out to Mr. Cassilly again today, renewing her request for access to the required State’s Attorney’s Office data prior to filing action with the court,” according to a statement from the Harford prosecutor’s office. “Mr. Cassilly responded moments ago that his administration will now grant Ms. Healey’s request for access to the data. Ms. Healey thanks Mr. Cassilly and his administration for their reconsideration.”
Healey made the request last week after a senior employee took emergency family leave. The unnamed employee was responsible for contracts, grants and other business important to the office that Healey said could not be ignored for long periods of time.
In a news conference outside the Harford County Circuit Court, Healey charged that Cassilly denied the request — retaliation for her turning over to the Office of the State Prosecutor an investigation into the Cassilly administration’s search of emails of at least one county councilmember and other county employees.
She threatened to seek a court order to force the county to give her access to the account. She also said she planned to seek funding for a private server for her office to ensure communications were confidential and could not be held hostage in the future.
The Office of the State Prosecutor’s investigation into the Cassilly administration has resulted in at least one grand jury subpoena seeking records from the county executive’s office.
Cassilly has called the complaint and investigation “a political hit job.”
The first-year executive was present during Healey’s news conference and told reporters afterward that he considered her request to be similar to his administration’s review of emails. He complained the prosecutor was attempting to entrap him and cast doubt on whether the employee on leave — whose absence was approved by the Harford County Department of Human Resources, Healey said — existed or was even on emergency leave.
A Cassilly spokesperson said Wednesday evening that the agreement does not represent a reversal of the county executive’s position.
Instead, it is prospective, covering only new emails sent to the employee on leave. The new emails will be forwarded to the state’s attorney. Those emailing the unnamed employee on leave will be notified that their messages have been rerouted.
The agreement does not cover any messages sent before Healey and Cassilly reached an agreement, according to the spokesperson.