- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — A Senate committee yesterday killed legislation that would have made it illegal to record a conversation without first getting the other party’s consent.

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath County Democrat, said his bill was in response to the eavesdropping scandal of 2002, in which state Republican Party Executive Director Edmund A. Matricardi III admitted he illegally listened in on and taped two Democratic Party conference calls.

Matricardi pleaded guilty to a federal felony count of unlawful interception of a wire communication and was sentenced in July to three years of probation and fined $5,000.

“Politicians are the ones that don’t have this figured out,” Mr. Deeds said. “It’s happened too often in the past. It’ll probably reappear.”

However, Republicans called the law unnecessary.

Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, Senate Courts of Justice Committee chairman, said what Matricardi did was illegal, whether he recorded the conversation.

“The factual scenarios don’t have anything to do with one another,” said Mr. Stolle, Virginia Beach Republican. “What Matricardi got convicted of has always been illegal in Virginia. … There’s absolutely no excuse for doing what the party did in those circumstances. But what [Mr. Deeds’] bill did had nothing to do with that.”

The bill would have made it a Class 1 misdemeanor not to obtain consent from every party on a conference call or other electronic communication before recording it. Law enforcement personnel would have been exempted.

Mr. Stolle said it was “asinine” to create a huge expectation of privacy where it wasn’t necessary. “I think it’s political posturing,” he said.

The Courts of Justice Committee defeated the bill by a vote of 7-4.

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