Ludwig apology letter was just a draft

Monday, July 28, 2008

Note: Click on the links above to read the draft letter attributed to David Ludwig and other documentation.

The apology letter was a draft.

According to Cape Girardeau County Auditor David Ludwig's attorney, Al Lowes, and deputy auditor Virgie Koeppel, the unsigned letter couldn't have been written by Ludwig.

"He never spelled my name right," Koeppel said. "And the address is wrong."

Her name is correctly spelled; the address, 1 Court St., should have read 1 Barton Square.

The letter, an apology to Koeppel from Ludwig saying he would stop looking at images of scantily clad women, never reached Koeppel. She first saw an unsigned copy on today. Earlier today, the Southeast Missourian erroneously attributed the words in the letter to Ludwig, who didn't actually write the draft.

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said the letter was written as a sample and given to Ludwig on June 18, 2007, when the commissioners and the county's prosecuting attorney, Morley Swingle privately confronted Ludwig for using his county computer to view scantily clad women while in the office with his two female deputies.

Lowes pointed out that Ludwig's middle initial is incorrect and the text is unlike Ludwig's writing.

The draft letter apologized in writing to longtime assistant Virgie Koeppel for downloading photos of a bikini-clad Pamela Anderson during work hours and promised it would not happen again, according to documents made public today at the Cape Girardeau County Commission.

"I acknowledge to you that it was wrong of me to be looking at bathing suit photos at work during office hours, especially in your presence," the draft letter said. "It was not just a violation of the County's Internet policy, but was also insensitive of me."

In an accompanying document, signed by Ludwig and all three commissioners, Ludwig acknowledged printing "seminude" photos of the buxom actress on his office printer. The document said Ludwig's actions amounted to sexual harassment, especially when taken together with confirmation he had been viewing other similar documents and photos on his office computer.

"Mr. Ludwig was confronted with these allegations and the ramifications of possible sexual harassment charges to him personally and the County," the document reads. "He was informed this was a very serious matter that puts the county at risk of litigation. Mr. Ludwig was also informed that any future violation of this nature would constitute grounds for a request of his resignation from office. Mr. Ludwig stated that actions of this nature would never happen again."

The draft letter, signed document and a memo from Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle regarding the commission's options for keeping the issue out of the public record, are dated June 18, 2007. They were released at the commission meeting by District 2 Commissioner Jay Purcell in advance of a discussion of whether to seek Sunshine Law training for county officeholders and board members.

In his memo, Swingle said any written apology filed with the commission would be a public document and that a closed session to deal with a personnel matter would, in due course, become public.

The documents were not made public, despite requests from the Southeast Missourian, until this morning.

Ludwig has not been at work since April, claiming illness related to complications from four operations since Dec. 27. He left the county administration building April 17 following a closed-door meeting with the three county commissioners and Swingle. At that meeting, Ludwig was accused of violating the promises made in the letters released today and commissioners demanded he resign. Ludwig refused.

Since that April 17 meeting, the legality of holding a closed session to handle issues regarding an elected official has been questioned and is the subject of a lawsuit filed by Purcell against the commission.

For updates, check back at semissourian.com or read Tuesday's Southeast Missourian.

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