Fired Harford County employee sues county

A Harford County employee is suing the county human resources department for improperly firing her, claiming she was dismissed because of her failure to support County Executive David Craig's candidacy and her husband's political campaign against Craig.

Tina Wagner, a cashier hired by the treasury department, is seeking "injunctive relief and monetary damages in connection with her wrongful termination from employment with Harford County," which resulted in "defamation and violations of the plaintiff's free speech."

Wagner is asking for $500,000, plus interest, costs and attorney fees.

The suit says she was accused of "dishonest conduct" and was fired in a "premeditated effort to strike back at her and her husband for having opposed the second term election of Harford County Executive David Craig."

The suit accuses human resources director Scott Gibson of allegedly orchestrating Wagner's termination with the county with Craig's knowledge and consent.

Wagner also accuses Craig of intimidating county government employees supporting Robert Wagner during the primary election.

Robert Wagner, Tina Wagner's husband, served on the Harford County Council from 1990 to 2002 and was council president until 2006.

When former Harford County Executive Jim Harkins resigned in 2005, Craig and Lucie Snodgrass were the candidates considered to replace him. Wagner supported Snodgrass instead of Craig, and also ran against Craig in the 2010 Republican primary. Both Craig and Wagner are Republicans.

"During the campaign, county employees were encouraged by intimidation to support Mr. Craig's candidacy. For instance, employees were instructed to attend functions to support Mr. Craig and they were delegated to polling places for support. One county employee was told to remove the employee's vehicle from the county parking lot at 220 South Main Street because it posted a sign supporting Mr. Wagner," the suit alleges.

"County employees who parked on county parking lots had their license numbers recorded by county employees if they were displaying a bumper sticker or signage supporting any candidate other than Mr. Craig," the suit states.

Wagner's case was heard before the Harford County Personnel Advisory Board earlier this year and was reinstated into her position after "finding that there was no disciplinary action warranted," according to the documents.

When Wagner applied for an accounting technician position in September of 2011, she asked her friend Debra Westermeyer, who held the position previously, "What kind of questions do you ask," referring to the interview.

Westermeyer sent her the questions that were asked during her interview.

"Mrs. Wagner did not violate any Harford County written or unwritten personnel policy by asking Ms. Westermeyer what kind of questions might be asked at the interview," the suit states.

When this was discovered, "Mr. Gibson reported to Mr. Craig that he intended to terminated Mrs. Wagner," the suit continues. "This would not have been normal protocol, but Mr. Gibson involved Mr. Craig because Mrs. Wagner was Mr. Wagner's wife, expressly for the purpose of bragging to Mr. Craig that he was going to terminate the wife of Mr. Craig's political rival."

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