Friday • July 29, 2022
Guest Post: Update on Lawsuit Focused on the Ball Administration’s Denial of Public Access to Hundreds of Emails Exchanged with Developer Lobbyist
By Robert Flanagan
By Robert Flanagan
On March 16th, 2022, lawyers for the Office of County Executive sent the attached letter to Robert Flanagan admitting wrongdoing and liability, marking it “CONFIDENTIAL, FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY” in order to restrict its publication. However the letter can now be made available to the public after lawyers for the Office of County Executive filed it in court trying to avoid a trial.
The Office of County Executive admits every claim of violating the Open Meetings Act and Public Information Act, except one. They argue that Jamila Ratliff, who is County Executive Ball’s sister in law and campaign manager did not understand the law she used to withhold emails requested by Flanagan.
County Executive Ball defends the violations in this lawsuit, arguing that Ms. Ratliff’s lack of understanding means it was not done knowingly and willfully. He alleges that Ms. Ratliff’s ignorance of the law caused her to unlawfully withhold almost 500 emails in the files of the Office of County Executive, involving a politically active County lobbyist / developers’ lawyer.
The Public Information Ombudsman had previously uncovered over 400 emails unlawfully withheld from another requestor.
Shortly after her involvement came to light, in February, Ms. Ratliff left County employment to work full time as Mr. Ball’s campaign manager with an income of $9700 per month, an amount commensurate with her income from her dual employment as Executive Assistant to County Executive Ball and campaign manager to the Ball re-election campaign.
Prior to leaving her Howard County job in the wake of this controversy, Calvin Ball’s sister-in-law conferred with the County Solicitor concerning her interest in resuming County employment after the election.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The guest post above covers an issue that continues to be investigated by HoCo Watchdogs. Please read these previous HoCo Watchdogs posts for the full background on this concerning situation:
Stay tuned for an upcoming August 2022 HoCo Watchdogs post that will explore very concerning aspects of the unusual pay increases and promotions that Calvin Ball personally approved for his sister-in-law — pay increases and promotions that took place as she was facilitating the denial of public access to hundreds of County emails that proved law-breaking by her “boss” and brother-in-law’s Administration.
DISCLAIMER: This post is a HoCo Watchdogs Guest Reader Contribution.
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