Every week the East Hampton police release a press packet that includes all the recent DWI arrests. But the press packet for the last week of June contained no mention of one high profile arrest that took place around 1 a.m. on the morning of June 26th. A man named Anthony Romero was allegedly driving so erratically that he crossed over the solid double yellow line and was pulled over by an East Hampton police officer. Romero is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union, a group that declared just last month that "out-of-control secrecy is a serious disease that is hurting American democracy." As it happens, Romero's DWI arrest was kept hush-hush until this week.
A police source tells the NY Post they "inadvertently" omitted Romero from the weekly press package. Given the ACLU's often adversarial relationship with police, it's not immediately clear why they'd do anybody at the ACLU any favors. But the ACLU's reticence on the incident raised eyebrows. Wendy Kaminer at The Atlantic writes, "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... Anthony Romero has a history of keeping secret his own embarrassing or wrongful behavior."
The arresting officer says that after pulling Romero over, he had difficulty standing without leaning against his Mini Cooper convertible, his eyes were glassy, his speech was slurred, and he fumbled with his wallet when asked to show I.D. Romero refused to take a field sobriety test, including a breath test, and was charged with misdemeanor DWI and several violations.
Romero pleaded not guilty, and made a brief appearance in court yesterday, during which his attorney said he needed more time to study documents in the case. (Town Justice Catherine A. Cahill postponed the conference to Oct. 6th.) Romero, who owns a house in East Hampton and makes $329,206 a year according to the Post, didn't speak to reporters outside the courthouse, but he earlier issued a statement saying, "I very much regret that this incident occurred, and look forward to resolving the matter with the authorities."