home Current Events, politics Recording Private Campaign Events Without Consent is a Crime, Maybe

Recording Private Campaign Events Without Consent is a Crime, Maybe

For those of you involved in politics since before the “smart” phone age, what ever happened to the honor system? The law? Maybe someone has been watching one too many episodes of House of Cards or, possibly, it is just the way it is in a time when electronic surveillance is becoming a commonplace in our society. 

Reports that someone surreptitiously recorded and released conversations meant to be private at a Senator Ted Cruz fundraiser in New York, and that no one seems to care that someone did so, is odd. According to POLITICO:

Last week, the N.Y. Times posted audio, provided by an attendee, of Cruz questioning Trump’s “judgment” at a Madison Avenue fundraiser. It turns out that several of Cruz’s private fundraising events have been recorded, according to this source.

Under New York criminal law, taping recording someone without their consent is illegal. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05. The bigger question, did the speaker, in this case Senator Cruz, enjoy a reasonable expectation of privacy?  It is a felony to record someone without consent. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.05. While disclosing an illegally recorded conversation is a misdemeanor. N.Y. Penal Law § 250.25.

The stories on this matter keep referring to the Madison avenue fundraiser as a “private” event; however, the campaign has also not responded to news stories related to the recorded comments nor has it alleged that the recording was done in an unlawful way. Are we reaching a point that campaigns will need to adopt as a matter of routine, advanced countermeasures to prevent, or make it harder, for people to engage in these type of dirty, and illegal, tricks? Some campaigns do so; however, most do not. Corporate America does it. Maybe campaigns should do the same.

We are in the age of the über stilted age politician. Political discourse these days tends are high on bromides and platitudes, low on substance. When every phrase is dissected, parsed, and twisted for agenda driving, almost in real-time, politicians tend to engage in defensive speech. I’m certain that part of Donald Trump’s appeal with certain voters is that he seems to be talking frankly about issues, while most of the other candidates are providing us the cookie cutter variety stump speech.

As for the law? One picks one’s battles. I suspect that the Cruz campaign has better things to do that waste resources tracking down whodunit. Besides, Cruz, is anything but a stilted age politician…

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