- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, has acknowledged leaking to the media a surreptitiously recorded phone call between Rep. John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, and then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
A Florida couple used a scanner to eavesdrop on the December 1996 conference call in which Mr. Boehner, Mr. Gingrich and other House leaders discussed strategy involving announcement of an ethics committee finding against Mr. Gingrich.
The couple gave the tape to Mr. McDermott, and the contents soon surfaced in news stories. The couple later pleaded guilty to unlawfully intercepting the call and were fined $500 each.
Mr. Boehner sued Mr. McDermott, accusing him of responsibility for the leak. In court papers filed last month, Mr. McDermott admitted he was the source.
According to the filings, Mr. McDermott said the couple traveled to the Capitol and handed him a sealed envelope with the tape inside. Mr. McDermott recognized the voices on the tape and believed the contents of the private conversation to be of "significant public interest." He allowed two reporters to listen to the tape separately.
Mr. Boehner's lawsuit accuses Mr. McDermott of violating a federal wiretapping law barring people from disclosing information they know was obtained by illegally intercepting a "wire, oral or electronic communication."
Mr. McDermott says accepting the tape did not break the law and punishing him for making it public would violate his free-speech rights.


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