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Clinton's Chief Strategist Is Accused of Illegal Eavesdropping




Clinton's Chief Strategist Is Accused of Illegal Eavesdropping
Clinton's Chief Strategist Is Accused of Illegal Eavesdropping



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/03/AR2007070302069.html 

By Sara Kugler
Associated Press
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 
company.

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 
wiretapping laws.

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 
monitoring.

"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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