Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley, Jr. is looking to “clear the air” after a recording of a telephone call he had with Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt was released to the public.
In September, the recording between the two elected officials was leaked by a Putnam County Watchdog Group regarding Schmitt possibly joining the “Langley Administration” at the end of the year.
The audio - taken some time in August - also included Schmitt backing Langley and expressing support for him in the upcoming November election against challenger Kevin McConville after previously backing the latter.
“Late last night, an audio recording of a conversation between Putnam County Sheriff Bob Langley and Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt was released, raising serious concerns about the unethical conduct of Sheriff Langley and endangering the credibility, trust, and transparency of the Sheriff's Department,” McConville said in a statement.
McConville later went on to compare Langley’s alleged misconduct to the Watergate scandal and called for the District Attorney to launch an investigation into the Sheriff’s actions.
“The 18-plus minute recording, which was political in nature, was seemingly recorded at Sheriff Langley's office and can only be described as Putnam County's version of Watergate,” he stated.
“Simply put, it is a violation of the public trust and so unethical, it would make President Nixon and former FBI Director 3. Edgar Hoover blush.”
Following the release of the tape and McConville’s subsequent statement, Langley issued a lengthy statement clarifying the situation while claiming that his challenger is making “overwrought and farcical political comparisons.”
According to Langley, the call came about after a mutual acquaintance advised him that Schmitt requested that the sheriff call him without saying why, noting that he has known the Town Supervisor for years in a professional capacity.
Langley admitted to making the call from his Sheriff’s Department-issued cell phone, and that all calls are recorded as a normal course of business, with the Sheriff’s Department recording the call on their device.
“It is the standard operating procedure for all telephone calls that are placed to or from the Sheriff’s Department and the County Jail to be recorded, except for those that are privileged for legal or other legitimate reasons,” he said.
“Both Mr. McConville, as a retired chief of the MTA Police Department, and Supervisor Schmitt, a retired Carmel police officer, should be aware of that fact, as it is the standard operating procedure for all police departments to record calls made on department phones.”
Langley noted that some politics were discussed, but the nature of the call “was not political in nature,” in his mind.
He added that he was not the one to release the recording, and that it was a subject of a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, and it was released under the county’s guidelines.
“I do not decide when, if or how any department recordings are released or made public, nor was the recording posted by my ‘political operatives,’” he clarified. “I do not have 'political operatives.’
“I have a family, a job, and a small group of grassroots volunteers, friends, and supporters. Only those who are constantly campaigning for some else’s job have political operatives.”
At the end of his statement, Langley came full circle and took a shot at McConville using his own metaphor against him.
“As for Mr. McConville’s hyperbolic and false characterization of the phone call, please," he said. "There was no violation of public trust and no unethical conduct.
"Neither President Nixon nor J. Edgar Hoover were capable of blushing. Apparently, neither is Kevin McConville.”
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