Did secret Romney video break the law?

Probably not, but it's a gray area [UPDATED]

Topics: Mitt Romney, Politics, 47 percent, 2012 Elections, ,

Update: Paul R. McAdoo, a Florida attorney specializing in media and First Amendment issues, tells us that he thinks any lawsuit against the recorder be a “very challenging case to bring.” The state’s privacy laws require that the case pass both a subjective and objective test, McAdoo said – subjective, in this case, would be whether Romney believed his speech was going to be private, and objective, whether society recognizes that this is a reasonable expectation. For a presidential candidate attending an event with caterers, donors, and other people in the room who probably have cameras, there would be a “significant hurdle” for any lawsuit.

Since the release of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent video conservative commentators have said the video was illegal because it was recorded without Romney’s knowledge.

As journalists who want to record phone calls know, recording laws vary across state lines. “In general, Florida law prohibits surreptitiously tape-recording conversations,” Alison Steele, the attorney for the Tampa Bay Times on First Amendment issues, told the Times.  ”But for that to apply, the speaker must have the expectation that the communication is not being recorded.”

“The question I think the law would ask is, is it reasonable for a candidate for president to stand at a podium in front of a roomful of people and expect that no one would record anything he said?” Steele said. “I would think that an unreasonable expectation.”

The event was private, and Mitt barred reporters from attending. But Peter Swire, a professor of law at the Ohio State University, also agrees with Steele, writing on ThinkProgress:

“Did Romney have a justified ‘expectation’ that no one would tape his speech before the packed room? In some earlier decade, the chances of a hidden recording device might have seemed remote. Today is different, though. Lots of people now carry video/audio recording devices. We call them ‘smartphones’ and ‘laptops.’ With changing technology, there is a strong argument that Romney assumed the risk that a staffer, guest, or server was recording his speech.”

Either way, it seems unlikely that Romney would bring a lawsuit against the person who recorded the event.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 6
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    The day in politics - 9/18/2012

    Slide 1

    Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters about the secretly taped video from one of his campaign fundraising events in Costa Mesa, Calif., Monday, Sept. 17, 2012.

    (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    The day in politics - 9/18/2012

    Slide 2

    Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., greets supporters during a campaign stop, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.

    (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

    The day in politics - 9/18/2012

    Slide 3

    President Barack Obama walks to the podium before speaking at a campaign event at Schiller Park Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Columbus, Ohio.

    (AP Photo/David McNew)

    The day in politics - 9/18/2012

    Slide 4

    Mitt Romney addresses the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012.

    (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

    The day in politics - 9/18/2012

    Slide 5

    President Barack Obama boards Air Force One, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to Ohio.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>