John Leopold and the 911 call
Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold is at the center of what will surely rank as one of the stranger political stories of 2009. The Sun's Julie Scharper reports in Wednesday's paper that Arundel police plan to release a 911 tape in which a caller complains of seeing someone engaging in sexual acts in a car outside of a county mall. Police responded to the scene and found the black Chevy in question, which, it turned out, was Leopold's county car.
A Leopold spokesman says police found the complaint to be unwarranted, and no charges were filed.
Leopold was in the car, but no word on whether anybody else was there, or what he was doing hanging out in the parking lot. Rumors about the 911 call have been spreading like wildfire in the state's political community, so this surely won't be the last we hear of it. Check back for updates as we get them.
Update: Leopold just released a statement via spokesman Dave Abrams:
"As a public official it is unfortunate to have to respond to rumors and gossip. I have been asked to respond to an allegation from an anonymous caller that was found to have no merit. The police acted within minutes and found absolutely nothing improper. I will not dignify this matter with further comment."
Update II: Julie Scharper has more from the police, but not much more. Here's what they're saying:
According to the recording and records supplied by police, the call was placed at 5:37 p.m. Jan. 30. An officer arrived in the area two minutes later, drove past the black Chevrolet and was directed to turn around. The officer stopped by the county executive's car seven minutes after the call was received.
The officer tells the dispatcher that the county executive was in the back seat of the car, but does not mention whether another person was present.
[Police spokesman Justin] Mulcahy declined to say if there had been another person in the car with Leopold, but said, "Our officers only made contact with the county executive."
I'm sure they want that to be the end of it, but I suspect they're going to face pressure to answer more questions, like was Leopold alone, and what was he doing hanging out in the back seat of his car in the Nordstrom parking lot at 5:37 in the afternoon? I imagine it's not unusual for Leopold to be in the back seat -- county executives usually have drivers/security guards. But if that's the explanation, where was the driver?
More new details: The Annapolis Capital got Leopold on the phone and has a few new bits of information. (Note: Their story has some information attributed to anonymous sources that we can't vouch for.) The paper reports:
Leopold, who is unmarried, said that he was in the Nordstrom parking lot because he's a frequent patron of the department store and buys his suits, shoes and sweaters there. He wasn't doing anything improper when the police arrived, he said.
"I was just sitting there. I don't know the exact duration," he said.
He declined to answer questions about whether anyone was with him or if he talked to the police officer. Nor would he answer questions about what he was doing moments before police arrived.
"I don't want to talk about this. I'll answer your questions later at another time. If I think it's necessary," he said before hanging up the phone.
The Capital also quotes Leopold as saying that he did not try to influence the police in its handling of the matter.