By Sara Kugler
July 4, 2007
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist is being accused of
illegal eavesdropping in a lawsuit that alleges he and his polling firm
monitored the personal e-mails of a former associate who started a rival
Mitchell E. Markel, a former vice president at Penn, Schoen & Berland,
claims in the lawsuit that the firm began monitoring all messages sent
from his personal BlackBerry device nearly a month after he had resigned
and become president of his new business. The suit claims that Mark
Penn, who is Clinton's chief strategist and pollster, knew about and
approved of the monitoring, which the suit says violates federal
Penn, Schoen & Berland, which has helped elect clients such as former
president Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, is
accused of hacking into Markel's BlackBerry and rigging his e-mail
accounts to send copies of his e-mail to another account that the firm
had set up. The suit says the BlackBerry that Markel used was always his
own, never the property of his former employer.
Howard Rubin, an attorney for Penn, Schoen & Berland, disputed the claim
that the e-mails were private and that the firm engaged in unauthorized
"The company hasn't done anything improper, and the e-mails came in on
our own e-mail account," he said. He declined to elaborate.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
A week earlier, the firm had filed its own lawsuit against Markel and
another former partner, Michael J. Berland, accusing them of breach of
contract because Markel's new company was soliciting Penn, Schoen &
Berland clients with Berland's help.
Markel, Berland and other employees of Penn, Schoen & Berland signed
agreements that prohibited them from competing with the firm or
soliciting and serving its clients for a certain period of time if they
were to leave the company, according to that suit.
Berland left Penn, Schoen & Berland in December. Markel left this year
to run the new company, Global Insights & Strategies.
Markel learned his e-mail was being monitored from the first lawsuit
because the suit quotes e-mails between him, Markel and others that show
conversations they were having about doing business with clients of
their former firm.
(c) 2007 The Washington Post Company
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