Executive director Anthony Romero was charged with DWI in June. Why are we only hearing about this now?
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero was charged with a DWI in June / Reuters
Out-of-control secrecy is a serious disease that is hurting American democracy," the ACLU rightly declared last month, introducing an important new report on the vast and secretive national security state. But the ACLU's opposition to government secrecy is selective: It has yet to complain about the reported failure of the East Hampton police to disclose DWI charges against ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in what the New York Post calls its "weekly press release package that includes details of every DWI charge." The Post reports that Romero was pulled over for "careening into oncoming traffic" back on June 26th; he refused a Breathalyzer and reportedly "stalled for time" when asked for his ID. (You can find additional details here.) He is due in court today, August 11. Why was this charge not included in a weekly press release of DWI charges? According to the Post, "police said they 'inadvertently' omitted" it. Whatever.
You might expect an organization advocating for government transparency (including a transparent criminal justice system) to consider a DWI charge a public matter; you might even expect the ACLU Executive Director to inform national board members of his drunk driving charge and pending court date. But (as I chronicled in my book Worst Instincts) Anthony Romero has a history of keeping secret his own embarrassing or wrongful behavior and leading ACLU board members have a history of covering for him. (Most notable was Romero's complicity with government blacklisting practices that the ACLU officially opposed and the leadership's defense of him. I discussed this complicated story in my book and summarized it here and here. And, as I and others have lamented, the ACLU has also retreated from its unbiased, unmitigated commitment to free speech.)