Greg Steube is being criticized for comments caught on video over the weekend, but the Sarasota Republican said the three-minute video doesn’t tell the whole story.
Charlotte County Florida Cop Watch posted a video to its YouTube page over the weekend that shows Steube telling a person it was a felony to record someone without their consent. The video was one of three videos featuring Steube posted to YouTube that were taken during an event in Charlotte County over the weekend.
“You know it’s actually a felony to videotape people without their permission,” a nearly four-minute video shows Steube saying at the end of a conversation.
“Nope, not true,” a man with a camera is heard saying. “That’s not true. Not in Florida.”
The person recording the conversation then asks Steube to say it again, before saying “are you serious?”
Steube responds by saying “on private property it is.”
Steube isn’t entirely wrong. It is against the law in Florida to record someone without their consent. But according to the Digital Media Law Project, the law makes an exception for in-person communications where there isn’t “a reason expectation of privacy, such as when they’re engaged in a conversation in a public place where they might reasonably be overheard.”
Those types of in-person conversations can be recorded “without breaking the law” in Florida, according to the Digital Medial Law Project.
Steube said he was ambushed by the group, who questioned him about whether he could help investigate 9/11 conspiracy theories among other things. That conversation, he said, was recorded by with a handheld camera.
Once they were done talking, he said mentioned to the group that it was against the law to record without consent. Those comments, he said, was caught on a hidden camera.
“There were two cameras, one that was hidden in a guy’s bag, which was recording unbeknownst to anyone,” he said. “I would imagine any of those people would be disturbed if they knew they were being videotaped and recorded.”
An attorney for the ACLU of Florida, who reviewed the video, said he did not believe any laws were broken. However, he said he thinks the best practice is to record conversations after gaining permission from those involved.
Steube said the event, which was hosted by the Charlotte County Republican Executive Committee, was held on private property, and he wasn’t aware at the time that it was open to the public.
Steube said he understands then group didn’t do anything illegal, and said he was “incorrect in the stance, in that it was open to the public.”