Rick Gunn violates open meetings law

A reporter brought an audio recorder to a public meeting of an NCGA committee today. That's common practice.

Then GOP insanity broke out.

The most bizarre incident of the day occurred in the Senate Commerce Committee, where Chairman Rick Gunn had the sergeant-at-arms confiscate the recorder used by a reporter. Neither Gunn nor the Senate sergeant-at-arms could provide a reason why the recorder, which was later returned to the reporter, was taken.

Gunn did provide a (completely bogus) reason at one point.

Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, co-chairman of the Senate Commercial Services Committee, said Tuesday that audio devices need to be approved by the Senate sergeant-at-arms in order to record meetings. He later rescinded his comment, saying that approval was not needed because it was the committee's first meeting.

North Carolina Press Association attorney Amanda Martin says pre-approval of recording devices would violate the state open meetings law.

Of course Gunn later apologized and threw himself on the mercy of the court (while pigs flew overhead).

Gunn said later that he misspoke in response to an unattended device at the table, and that recording devices of all kinds are allowed in public meetings and do not have to be approved.


Two questions

  1. What was Gunn saying that he didn't want recorded?
  2. What punishment will be levied on Gunn for breaking the law? (we expect we know the answer to this one)

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Rick's clarification

In crystal clear, unambiguous language that does not in any way indicate that Rick got caught breaking the law and just being plain arrogant and stupid, the loose Gunn-cannon explains:

Pressed a third time, with several more reporters watching, and asked specifically why he authorized a recorder to be confiscated, Gunn said, "I was simply, I thought – I think everyone should be open, and I certainly did not in any way intend cause that."

What a lie. Rick most certainly did "intend cause that". He deliberately made a power play and told lies to illegally confiscate a reporter's legal recording device.

He was simply, he thought -- he thinks. Or not.

"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

More interesting ...

... point about the story to me is that the Republicans have been getting the sergeant-at-arms to keep a close watch on recording devices, fearful that some will be hidden in rooms to "catch them off guard" outside of the context of public meetings.

That tells me that someone saw a recording device lying around somewhere in a room in the capitol building and got everybody worked up into thinking they're being "bugged".

1. Anyone may "photograph,

1. Anyone may "photograph, film, tape-record, or otherwise reproduce any part of a meeting required to be open." G.S. 143-318.14(a).

2. Consequences- A court can grant an injunction stopping (i) threatened violations , (ii) the recurrence of past violations , or (iii) continuing violations. G.S. 143-318.16. The court may also make a finding that "any action of a public body was taken, considered, discussed, or deliberated" in violation of the Open Meetings Act and may void such actions. G.S. 143-318.16A. However, doing so is at the discretion of the court, based on several factors. See G.S. 143-318.16A(c). Courts very seldom grant this relief.

3. Standing- Anyone can sue for open meeting violations. G.S. 143-318.16A(a) You don't have to be there or have been directly affected in any way. If anyone on this board feels strongly about this possible violation, I invite you to file the complaint. You may win, but all you're likely to get is a pat on the back.

I was sitting there, entering

I was sitting there, entering comments on twitter and Facebook, wondering if they were going to come and take my laptop. I was very surprised at the announcement, but as I am not on the committee and could not call point of order and remind them of open meeting laws.