Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis reveals that someone inside the closed-door meeting of Republican congressmen in Philadelphia this week may have committed a serious crime in the course of the retreat. That’s not the way DeBonis puts it in his story on the cold feet and second thoughts among the GOP congressmen about their commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare, but that’s how I read this statement: “Recordings of closed sessions at the Republican policy retreat in Philadelphia this week were sent late Thursday to The Post and several other news outlets from an anonymous email address.”
Taking a quick look around online this morning, I believe that Pennsylvania is one of 11 or or 12 states that requires all-party consent for the recording of conversations as a general rule. The applicable law is set forth under chapter 57 of Pennsylvania’s criminal code (Title 18 of the Pennsylvania statutes). The general prohibition is set forth in § 5703. The law does not apply under circumstances where the speaker lacks a reasonable expectation of privacy. The exception is derived from the definition of “oral communication” set forth in § 5702.
I doubt that this exception applies to a closed-door meeting, although it is possible that it does. It is in any event a question that DeBonis does not raise and therefore leaves open in his interesting story. The Republicans may have a criminal in their midst. They certainly have a mole who has betrayed the trust of his colleagues. Who is it?
FOOTNOTE: DeBonis asserts that “[t]he remarks of all lawmakers quoted in this article were confirmed by their offices or by the lawmakers themselves.” Nevertheless, I think that the quote here is off: “’The fact is, we cannot repeal Obamacare through reconciliation,’ [California Rep. Tom] McClintock said. ‘We need to understand exactly: What does that reconciliation market look like? And I haven’t heard the answer yet.’” My guess is that “market” should read “mark-up.”