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Did Secret Romney Video Violate Florida Privacy Law? It Depends

Posted Sep 20, 2012 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Did a secret video of Mitt Romney speaking at a Florida fundraiser violate state privacy law? Legal experts say the answer is unclear.

Florida law requires anyone taping conversations to get the consent of everyone involved, according to Politico, CNBC, WPTV.com and the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog. But courts have ruled taping is permitted if the parties have no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Ohio State University law professor Peter Swire told Politico there are good arguments for either position. "Both sides can write a good brief now,” he said.

A criminal prosecution against the person who made the tape could result in fines and jail time, while a civil prosecution could result in liability. Meanwhile, Florida attorney Edward Birk said the homeowner might be able to sue if the taper was a member of the catering staff. “I’d want to see if there was anything in the contract with the caterer,” he said.

In any event, Florida law enforcement isn't investigating because no one has complained, according to Paul Zacks, the chief assistant state attorney for Palm Beach County. “In the case where an allegation is of an illegal taping, the interest of the victim is paramount, and we haven’t heard from them,” Zacks told Washington Wire.

Hat tip to Legal Blog Watch and Above the Law.

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