By MICHELE DARGAN, Daily News Staff Writer
Conservative public-interest law firm suggests 'journalist shopping,' seeks records from State Attorney's Office.
A conservative public-interest law firm is seeking records from the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office, in an attempt to determine if the office has planted negative stories in the media about an investigation into Rush Limbaugh.
The Landmark Legal Foundation, of Herndon, Va., and Kansas City, Mo., filed a public records request Thursday with the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office asking for any and all communications with employees and outside individuals or groups relating to Limbaugh.
The State Attorney's Office is investigating whether Limbaugh illegally amassed pain pills by obtaining prescriptions from various doctors, a felony called "doctor shopping." Limbaugh is trying to keep his medical records sealed.
State Attorney Barry Krischer will decide whether and how to answer the Landmark Legal Foundation's request.
Mark R. Levin, president of the foundation, said he, not Limbaugh, decided to enter the fray on behalf of the conservative radio talk-show host. Levin said he decided to file the freedom of information request after watching Limbaugh attorney Roy Black on television Wednesday night talking about the case. On MSNBC's Scarborough Country program, Black said he heard, from a reporter, that Krischer spokesman Mike Edmondson has been leaking information about Limbaugh and "planting stories in the press." According to Black, he notified Krischer's office asking for an investigation, but has gotten no response.
Edmondson said, "To my knowledge, the only person discussing the case is defense attorney Roy Black in his paid position with MSNBC and NBC and Rush Limbaugh on his talk show. My position, as a public information officer, requires me to respond to any inquiry from the press, while at the same time, limiting information to whatever is public record at the time of the inquiry."
Levin said he is trying to determine if Edmondson committed "journalist shopping" leaking investigative information to the media that is not considered public. Levin said that is a felony under Florida law.
"We feel we should be able to see Mr. Krischer's records to see whether anyone in his office has committed a felony," Levin said. "Given his decision to make Mr. Limbaugh's records public, I don't imagine he would object to providing these materials."
Edmondson said, "Investigative intelligence would not be public record, including staff or assets assigned to an investigation."
The public records request asks for "all public-record information including, but not limited to, communications to, from, between and with persons or entities unaffiliated with the State Attorney's Office (e.g., the media, political organizations, the general public and elected or appointed public officials.)" The foundation "does not seek either active criminal intelligence information or active criminal investigative information."
The request also says the "records of improper or illegal conduct by the State Attorney's Office and individuals working in said office are not exempt from disclosure." The request also asks for "any and all communications, information and records" in Edmondson's possession.