City Hall Accused of Illegally Recording Reporters

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday dismissed suggestions that his staff had been secretly recording reporters, calling the reports “much ado about nothing.”

The Chicago Tribune reported in its Monday editions that a city attorney had admitted there had been instances in which Tribune reporters were recorded during interviews without their consent, but he insisted the incidents were “inadvertent” and not part of an ongoing administration practice.

The Tribune cited two such occurrences: a telephone interview with Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in October of 2011 and two interviews in September involving reporters from the newspaper and an official commenting on the mayor’s speed camera program. The report said administration spokespeople admitted recording the interviews without asking the reporters for consent.

Illinois is one of 12 states where recording conversations without the consent of all parties is a felony.

“This kind of reminds me of Will Shakespeare,” the mayor declared at a morning appearance. “Much ado about nothing.”

“If the staff has made a mistake on one or two instances, then we’ll address the mistake," he said.  But during the event, which was designed to emphasize the hiring of veterans in a new park district fitness program, the mayor brushed aside suggestions that a more serious issue should be considered.

“I have really big issues,” he said.  “The health of these kids, that’s my number one issue.”

“I have a policy on a longer school day, I have a policy that our kids are healthy, I have a policy to make sure that we’re going to bring safety to our streets that we’re going to have economic growth, that we’re going to put our troops back to work. I’ve got to be honest. I don’t remember it in my hundred-day plan or my four-year plan, a policy to make sure that you, journalists, that we have a record on that.”

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