This just in... Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller and chief strategist Hillary Clinton's election campaign is being accused of illegal eavesdropping in a civil lawsuit. The suit alleges that he and his polling firm monitored the personal e-mails of a former associate.
Mitchell Markel, a former vice president at Penn, Schoen & Berland, the polling arm of B-M, claims that the firm began monitoring all messages sent from his personal Blackberry device for nearly a month by rigging his account to send blind carbon copies of his e-mails to PSB. Markel had left PSB earlier this year to run a new company that he has formed called Global Insights & Strategies, LLC. The suit claims that Penn approved of the monitoring and that PSB violated federal wiretapping laws.
The suit says, ""Through this unlawful interception scheme, defendants clandestinely received confidential and proprietary information of Markel's company... including pricing, strategy and work product, and proprietary information of other companies whose e-mails were also intercepted."
Markel's suit seeks monetary damages and asks the court to restrain PSB from disclosing or using any of the intercepted electronic communications, including for competitive use or in any trial or court proceeding, and asks that they be ordered to destroy everything they intercepted.
Howard Rubin, an attorney for Penn, Schoen & Berland, disputed the claim that the e-mails were private or that the firm engaged in unauthorized monitoring.
Last May The Nation featured a profile of Penn that ultimately asked: "Is what's good for Penn and his business good for Hillary's political career. It is difficult to tell where Penn's corporate life ends and the political one begins."
Indeed, the distinction gets murkier.
UPDATE: Jul 18, 6:51 PM (ET)
NEW YORK (AP) - A lawsuit accusing Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist of illegally intercepting e-mails has been withdrawn and the legal battle between him and former associates has been resolved, the parties said Wednesday.