Record requests anger hopeful for Harford executive

October 23, 2002|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

BEL AIR - Harford County executive candidate Paul Gilbert accused his opponent, incumbent James M. Harkins, yesterday of illegally gaining access to his personnel file for use in the campaign, a charge Harkins angrily denied.

Gilbert, a Democrat from Darlington, said his resume and financial disclosure statements were protected by state law from being released. However, the county's legal department said such information becomes public if an appointee is confirmed by the County Council.

Gilbert was appointed economic development director in the administration of then-County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann in 1994.

"If illegally obtaining this confidential information weren't bad enough, he distorted certain facts in my resume, with respect to my work in the planned, mixed-use community of Riverside," Gilbert said.

Gilbert was president of BLC Properties Inc. from 1989 until he joined the Rehrmann administration. The Riverside community, approved in the 1970s and developed by BLC, includes an industrial park, commercial center and neighborhoods.

A request was filed last month under the Maryland Freedom of Information Act by Shobita C. DuBois, an attorney in a Bel Air firm. Harkins identified her yesterday as a campaign volunteer.

Asked why he sought Gilbert's records, Harkins said Gilbert wasn't discussing his past role at BLC yet criticizing him for being friendly to developers.

"He tries to sweep these things under the rug, and you must tell the truth," the Republican said.

Gilbert's Web site, however, includes the BLC position among his credentials.

Harkins added that such requests are standard in elections and said Gilbert has filed public information requests, too - though primarily for economic development information.

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