To the surprise of many, The Washington Post reported that it obtained a recording of a closed-door meeting of GOP members that occurred on Thursday in the City of Philadelphia. The article even quotes statements made during the closed-door meeting, seemingly ignorant of Pennsylvania’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to intercept, endeavor to intercept, procure, disclose, endeavor to disclose, use, or endeavor to use an oral communication without that person’s consent. Specifically, 18 Pa.C.S. 5703 provides:
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he:
(1) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication;
(2) intentionally discloses or endeavors to disclose to any other person the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication; or
(3) intentionally uses or endeavors to use the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom, knowing or having reason to know, that the information was obtained through the interception of a wire, electronic or oral communication.
While there exists exceptions for law enforcement and other non-applicable bases, the individual who recorded the meeting, anyone who solicited the person to record the meeting, and those individuals and entities which have disclosed and used the recording have clearly committed a felony of the 3rd degree, which permits the individual to be imprisoned for up to 7 years. Moreover, if the individual is a state official or employee, he/she is to be dismissed or removed from office.
Furthermore, there exists civil penalties, which include “actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages computed at the rate of $ 100 a day for each day of violation, or $ 1,000, whichever is higher;” “punitive damages” and “reasonable attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.”
Accordingly, I am calling on Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro to open an investigation into these violation of our laws.