Gray requests police inquiry about fund-raising letters Councilman accuses GOP administrator of stealing missives

July 12, 1996|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray, believing that Republicans stole his letters to leak to a reporter, has requested a police inquiry -- and a new office key to lock out would-be thieves in the future.

Gray, an east Columbia Democrat, declined to comment Wednesday about his request for a police inquiry other than to say, "All I'm trying to find out is how my file turned up missing."

His actions follow a furious outburst at a council meeting Monday morning, when Gray accused County Council Administrator Christopher B. Emery, a Republican appointee, of stealing Gray's letters and leaking them to The Sun.

"I'm going to ask the chief [of police] to kind of investigate these things," Gray said in Monday's council meeting. "I see it as a whole case of dirty tricks."

Gray's letters were part of a fund-raising campaign in which he asked 50 companies -- including one regulated by the county -- to donate $1,000 for his run for a leadership position with the National Association of Counties (NACO), a lobbying group. The county's Ethics Commission will review questions about the legality of that campaign Monday.

Emery has denied stealing the letters and leaking them to The Sun. Yesterday, he denounced Gray's request for a police inquiry.

"It's absurd," Emery said. "I think it's a disruption of our operation and an embarrassment. I think what happened to the files was an honest mistake, not some sinister, dirty plot, as Mr. Gray has alleged."

Gray, who left for the NACO convention in Houston yesterday, called Howard County police Wednesday afternoon about the missing file, said spokesman Sgt. Steven Keller. "There has not been any in-depth investigation at this point, but at his request, there will be," Keller said. "We're going to look and see if any crime occurred."

The department has appointed Cpl. Charles Dittman, an investigator with the Crimes Against Property section, to begin the inquiry, Keller said.

This week's battle is part of a long-running feud between Gray and council Chairman Darrel E. Drown, the Ellicott City &r Republican who appointed Emery.

Gray and Drown are considering runs for county executive. In recent months, they have clashed in increasingly public ways, often with Emery in the mix.

Pub Date: 7/12/96

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