[UPDATE] Detectives Arrest Woman for Recording Leon County Commissioner

By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News; Julie Montanaro Email

*** Update 10-5-2010 4:57 PM ***

Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell is now facing his fourth ethics complaint.

Complainant Jeff Pinsky says he filed the ethics complaint because of Thaell's disturbing history of abusing public trust and breaking the law.

Pinskey says the complaint comes on the heels of four documented cases of suspect activity.

Cliff Thaell emailed WCTV his response to the latest allegations:

"Ludicrous! The latest bogus allegations against me by an out of town developer is yet another political attempt to degrade my good and long standing service to our community. I stand proud of my record, my votes and my reputation for good clean government. When this is all concluded my record will stand untarnished. I’m sorry the good people of Leon County are exposed to this low level political scheming. "

WCTV continues to follow the story and will bring you the latest.

-------------------------

*** Update 10-5-2010 1:07 PM ***

As our reporters tried to question Cliff Thaell about the recording in question, we were told that Commissioner Thaell had been advised not to speak on the matter by his attorneys.

WCTV continues to follow the story and will bring you the latest.

-------------------------

*** Update 9-24-201 11:40 PM ***

Here is the latest response that Nick Maddox has sent out in regards to Cliff Thaell:

Dear Neighbor,

Cliff continues to accuse my campaign for the troubles that surround his 16 years in public office. He attempts to blame me because I commented on the tape that was given to me by a woman who Cliff decided to have arrested. The truth is, I only commented because I was asked directly by the press and accused by Cliff for the surfacing of the tape. I have made one statement only about the tape. Click here if you have not seen it. My campaign received a copy of the tape and a myriad of other materials from multiple sources, well before the primary election. At my direction, we made the conscious decision not to use any of the material for the purposes of our campaign. That has not changed. The tape surfaced only as a result of Cliff pressing charges against his constituent, who came to his office to see him about a concern. Since the woman indicated in the police report that she gave me a copy of the tape, I was then asked to comment.

During the course of this campaign, I was given copies of ethics complaints and chose not to use them in my campaign. I was given a taped recording and also chose not to use it. It is a shame that my opponent’s troubles and political games are dominating the news when we actually have important things to talk about; like jobs, our economy, our quality of life and the county commission's mis-management of Innovation Park.

Cliff is angry and I understand why. He has spent the last year involved in ethical complaints against him and criminal investigations, disappointing results in the primary election and now a recorded conversation by a woman who came to him for help. He wants to blame someone for the negative cloud that hovers over his 16 years in public office. Mr. Thaell is directing his anger at the wrong person. If there is a mirror on the 5th floor of the county building, Cliff needs to look into it to find some answers to the questionable behavior and decision making that has created such tremendous noise during this campaign. You have a choice as voters, whether to get caught up in my opponents negative noise or engage in a discussion about moving Leon County forward. I hope you will allow me a seat at the table for a discussion about the issues that are important to our success as a county. Please support our campaign for change and reject Mr. Thaell's blame game and politics as usual.

Sincerely,

Nick Maddox

Updated on 9/24 at: 1:05PM

Cliff Thaell has released a statement regarding a statement Nick Maddox released after the arrest of Kathleen Harvey. Incumbent Thaell is running against Maddox in the general election Nov. 2.

Thaell's press release follows:

“Negative statements implicating my opponent.”

These are the words that Nick Maddox used in an email describing the content of an illegal tape of a meeting I had with a constituent…a tape that I requested be released and made open to the public.

“Negative statements implicating my opponent????”

Nick Maddox has been in possession of this ill-gotten tape for over a month now. I presume he has listened to it, and I know he has tried to make an issue out of it.

So I ask: What “negative statements?” What “implications” is he trying to infer?

The truth is that there is nothing “negative” or “implicating” on that or any other tape.

The truth is that Nick Maddox continues to run a campaign based on false innuendos and shadowy inferences. Nick Maddox continues to hide behind outside interests who care nothing about our community and seek only to engage in the politics of personal destruction.

Recall that Nick sent a mass email out within minutes of a local partisan who filed a groundless ethics charge against me…and then repeatedly said he wouldn’t use it to campaign!

The politics of personal destruction has no place in our county.

I believe the public is sick and tired of these types of personal attacks…personal attacks that will do nothing to move our county forward or help put people back to work.

I hope you will reject the false innuendos and the disparaging attacks and I hope you will stand with me as we keep our county moving in the right direction.

-----------------------------------------------

Updated By: La'Tasha Givens on 9/23 at: 10:15 PM

During a phone conversation with one of our reporters, Leon county commissioner Cliff Thaell said he wrote a letter to the Sheriff's office requesting the tape be released.

Officials say the tape in question was illegally recorded by 45-year-old Kathleen Harvey last year at the county courthouse.

Harvey was arrested and released from jail on bond. The tape was handed over to Thaell's opponent, Nick Maddox, who did not make the tape public either.

The Sheriff's Office has refused to release the recording, citing it's part of an open investigation.

UPDATED 9.22.2010 6:55PM by Julie Montanaro

A Leon County Commissioner speaks out tonight in the wake of a secret recording and the subsequent arrest of a Tallahassee business owner.

While LCSO's investigation ended in an arrest, it's not at all clear how this controversy will impact the results on election day.

Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell says he's still stunned that an illegal recording of a meeting in his office wound up in the hands of his political rival Nick Maddox.

"I listened to the tape at the sheriff's office because I was curious too. It's mostly just broken garbled conversation," Thaell said outside his campaign office Wednesday.

Tuesday, 45 year old Kathleen Harvey was arrested for recording that February 2009 conversation without Thaell's consent.

"She was not enlisted by our campaign and to our knowledge she is not a supporter of the campaign," said Maddox campaign adviser Sean Pittman.

Pittman says Harvey gave Maddox the tape more than a month ago but they decided to steer clear and stick to the issues.

"We made a decision early on in this, when we received the documents, that it wasn't something we wanted to make a part of our campaign," Pittman said.

The contents of that recording are still under wraps so voters are left to wonder what, if any, politically volatile statements are on it.

"I heard nothing in there that I'm embarrassed about or ashamed of or you know, I think we could probably take something you just said and turn it around and twist it and make it seem awful," Thaell said.

Thaell is not convinced the tape wouldn't have turned into an attack had he not pursued the illegal recording charges.

"I think people see this as a continuation of the character assassination and this negative attack kind of campaign that was run in the primary against me. I think everyone anticipated that that would not stop," Thaell said.

WCTV has made a public records request for the recording, but an LCSO attorney says because this is an ongoing criminal investigation it is not subject to the sunshine yet.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Updated 10:00AM 9.22.2010

Nick Maddox, who will be running against Commissioner Cliff Thaell in the November 2 General Election, has released a statement in regards to the arrest of Mary Kathleen Harvey:

“As allegations and ethical complaints continue to multiply against 16 year incumbent County Commissioner Cliff Thaell, I assure voters again, that my campaign is not responsible for these unfavorable disclosures. Mary Kathleen Harvey is not a supporter of our campaign nor is she enlisted by our campaign. Since the beginning of my candidacy, I have received unsolicited information from numerous sources, regarding alleged ethical violations or negative statements implicating my opponent. I received similar information from Ms. Harvey over 1 month ago. My campaign made the conscious decision not to use any of this information for the purposes of our campaign. I am not and will not run on the troubles surrounding my opponent. I believe my ideas for moving Leon County forward will be the reason I am elected."

------------------------------------------

Updated by Amy Long 11:21pm 9.21.2010

Cliff Thaell is fighting for his commission seat and trying to win the voters support. But he now has another fight on his hands, one that now involves local authorities.

"We don't care about politics one way or the other. We care about the legality of it. Who wins, who loses, that's immaterial to us. Who violated the law is what we're interested in."

That's Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell this afternoon commenting on the recording in question. Mary Kathleen Harvey, is facing a felony charge for tape-recording a conversation with Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell back in February 2009...without his consent.

According to LCSO, Harvey recorded the meeting in Thaell's office when she went to ask for an investigation into the county's pre-trial office - which she claims was warning clients about upcoming drug tests.

Commissioner Thaell declined to make a comment- but did release a written statement saying- "As soon as I learned of this criminal act, I promptly and appropriately contacted law enforcement. This is a serious matter that should be handled by the authorities. I really do not wish to seek public attention to this matter except to say that this type of conduct has no place in a political campaign."

Harvey's Husband, Brad said he is outraged and says there was no secret recording...the recorder was sitting in sight, on the desk.

Brad Harvey, Mary "Kat" Harvey's Husband says, "The doors were open in the office. It was in a public setting, the Leon County Courthouse. There was no expectation of privacy."

Campbell says, "Commissioner Thaell said that's not true. They had no idea that they were being recorded. She never produced a tape recorder or said anything about recording it."

Sheriff Larry Campbell refuses to release the tape in question right now because the investigation is ongoing

The Harvey's do have a lawsuit pending against Leon County about activities in the pre-trial office. WCTV has tried reaching commission candidate Nick Maddox for a comment but have not heard back.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
UPDATED 9.21.2010 by Julie Montanaro

A secret recording surfaces in the middle of a hotly contested county commission race and now a Tallahassee business owner is under arrest for it.

Kathleen Harvey is accused of tape recording a conversation with Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell last year .. and later turning it over to his political rival, Nick Maddox.

Mary Kathleen Harvey, who goes by Kathleen, is facing a felony charge for recording a meeting with Thaell in February 2009 without his consent.

According to LCSO, Harvey recorded the meeting in Thaell's office when she went to ask for an investigation into the county's pre-trial office - which she claims was warning clients about upcoming drug tests.

LCSO believes the recording surfaced now because Thaell is in the midst of a re-election campaign.

"The situation would be that Ms. Harvey wants someone else to be commissioner other than Thaell," Sheriff Larry Campbell said. "So she thought, best we can put together, by giving Maddox the tape of Thaell discussing the urine samples it would help him in his campaign against Thaell."

"We don't care about politics one way or the other," Sheriff Campbell said. "We care about the legality of it. Who wins, who loses, that's immaterial to us. Who violated the law is what we're interested in."

Harvey and her husband own the Collection Point, which collects urine samples for drug and alcohol screenings.

They filed a civil suit against the county in July of 2009.

Husband Brad Harvey calls Kathleen Harvey's arrest an "outrage" and claims that if the contents of that tape get out, it will change people's opinion of Thaell.

We have asked both Cliff Thaell and Nick Maddox to comment and we are awaiting a response.

We also have called the Harvey's attorneys, Marie Maddox and Brandon Glanz for comment, but have not received a reply.

A judge set bond in this case at $5,000. Harvey's husband says an old traffic warrant out of Brevard County is holding up her release. CJIS confirms there is a hold on a 1997 charge of driving with license suspended or revoked.

In a story WCTV aired about the filing of the Harvey's civil suit in July 2009, the sheriff's office said it did investigate the Harvey's claims of impropriety in the pre-trial office, but closed the investigation because it found no evidence of any criminal activity or any sign that the two employees in question leaked any test dates.

The following is what was reported on July 2009:

A lawsuit leveled against Leon County claims employees were leaking drug testing dates to folks on pre-trial and probation.

The Collection Point is in the business of doing urinalysis tests, many of them court ordered.

So you can imagine owner Brad Harvey's surprise when one of the men getting tested there said an employee in Leon County's Probation and Pre-Trial Release Division was giving him his supposedly random test dates in advance.

"He was happy he was on pre-trial and I asked him why he was so happy. He said because he didn't have to worry about it, he already had his dates in advance. He could do what he wanted and be where he needed to be," Brad Harvey said.

Harvey and his wife say they notified the county, and instead of a thank you, we'll check into it, they say the county started steering business away from their testing site.

"Their probation officers are telling them they'll be violated, sent to jail over coming to us," Kat Harvey claims.

They've filed a civil lawsuit to stop it and recover damages.

A criminal investigation by the Leon County Sheriff's Office was closed. It found "no evidence" of any criminal activity and no sign that either of the two employees who knew pre-trial participant Richard McGriff leaked any dates.

Both employees passed voice stress tests administered by the Sheriff's Office. Both say McGriff did ask them to provide the dates and "help him out," but both say they refused.

McGriff, who is now behind bars in Texas, denies getting test dates in advance and claims he doesn't even know Brad Harvey, according to the LCSO incident report.

LCSO documents say the head of probation and pre-trial, Wanda Hunter, has stopped providing employees with advanced notice of testing dates "a month or months" in advance and now issues them daily instead.

But when asked about the change, Hunter insists it wasn't in response to the Harveys' complaint.

The Collection Point's attorney, Marie Mattox, says if drug testing dates were leaked in advance, it calls into question the validity of countless drug and alcohol tests.

"There are some serious implications for not having the proper testing in the second judicial circuit. They have raised those issues and after they raised those issues is when their business began to suffer," Marie Mattox says.

Leon County Attorney Herb Thiele says he is still gathering information in the case and has no other comment right now. He says the county will file a response in the next few weeks.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
*** Update 9-21-2010 5:02 PM ***

A Tallahassee business owner is under arrest tonight for illegally recording a conversation with County Commissioner Cliff Thaell.

45-year-old Mary Kathleen Harvey was arrested today and charged with taping a conversation with Thaell in February 2009 without his consent.

Harvey went to speak with the commissioner about the possibility of a Pre-Trial Officer releasing drug testing dates to defendants in advance.

Harvey and her husband own The Collection Point Incorporated which is a company that receives urine samples from clients submitting them for drug or alcohol screenings.

The Harvey's filed a lawsuit against Leon County stemming from these allegations. Recently they gave a copy of the tape to Thaell's challenger, Nick Maddox.

------------------------------------------

(Eyewitness News) --

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Mary Kathleen Harvey, 45, after an investigation revealed she secretly recorded Leon County Commissioner Cliff Thaell and another man during a meeting. Detectives began investigating the complaint from Commissioner Thaell in early September, after it was discovered that Thaell and Walter Dartland had been recorded during the meeting that took place in February of 2009. The meeting took place in Commissioner Thaell’s office in the Leon County Courthouse. Harvey was meeting with the commissioner and Dartland to complain about a Pre-Trial Officer possibly warning clients of upcoming drug tests.

Harvey and her husband own The Collection Point Inc., which is a company that receives urine samples from clients submitting them for drug or alcohol screenings. Many of the business’ clients are referred from Leon County Probation and Pre-Trial Release. Harvey had requested the meeting with Commissioner Thaell to discuss starting an investigation against a Pre-Trial Officer for allegedly providing clients with advanced warnings of upcoming drug tests to ensure they would not test positive.

During the meeting, neither Commissioner Thaell nor Dartland gave Harvey consent to record their conversation. During the course of this investigation, it was determined that a copy of this recording was provided to Nick Maddox. Maddox is currently seeking election to the County Commissioner’s seat occupied by Thaell in the general election.

After reviewing the evidence, which includes a complete copy of the recording, detectives presented the case to the State Attorney’s Office and obtained an arrest warrant for Harvey.

DATE: 9/21/2010

ARRESTED

Mary Kathleen Harvey

DOB: 12-24-1964

Charge: Interception of Oral Communications

----

WCTV will bring you details.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 103456909 - wctv.tv/a?a=103456909