Alaska Republican Will Sue You If You Broadcast His Butt-Dials
Here's a fun legal question for all you lawyerly types out there: do two-party consent rules apply to audio recordings arising from butt-dials? Answer: we have no idea, but two Alaska Republicans sure hope they do!
In 2008, Dan Coffey (R-Recently Changed His Party Enrollment) and Bill Starr (R-Better Dead Than Red) were caught on tape "joking" about giving campaign contributions to Alaska Assembly members "if they voted the right way." Fast forward to 2015, when Coffey lawyers-up after realizing that his comments could be used against him in his Anchorage mayoral campaign. The Alaska Dispatch News brings us the story.
[Coffey's] campaign is threatening to take legal action against any media that broadcasts the 2008 conversation, saying it would be a violation of state and federal law because neither he nor Starr gave permission for the recording. At the time, the wife of Assembly member Allan Tesche said the recording belonged to her because it was left on the family answering machine.
Coffey and Starr's conversation is muffled, but the content of their "jokes" about trading cash for votes is not in dispute — Coffey himself published a full transcript months ago, complete with an acknowledgement of his "poor attempt at humor." But Coffey and his legal team seem much more concerned about their client's voice being used on Alaska airwaves, mostly because reading is for dorks and no one is going to wade through this transcript to find the juicy bits.
NO ONE EXCEPT YR WONKET, OF COURSE. Let's take a look at the things Dan Coffey says when he thinks he's in a safe space with Bill Starr.
Mr. Coffey: Yeah. I'm — I'm doling it out 250 at a crack.
Mr. Starr: That's good. It gives the message that we care.
Mr. Coffey: Yeah, well, I'm going to be able to, hey, you didn't vote right last week, you don't get...
Mr. Starr: Just what I want...
Mr. Coffey: ...your second 250.
Mr. Starr: Just what I want to hear.
Well, that could mean anything, right? Did he say he was doling out two hundred fifty dollars at a crack? No, no he did not. Could be 250 moose pelts, for all we know. And it's not as though Coffey and Starr were talking about using campaign dollars to extract endorsements from sitting public officials or anything.
Mr. Starr: You go my way or you the freeway, you know. Here's — I got a call from [former Alaska Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety] Del Smith today and I'm gonna tell those sons-of-bitches to go fuck themselves. [...] they're not gonna — they're not gonna declare a position in my race.
Mr. Coffey: Yeah.
Mr. Starr: But I said, well, if you ain't for me you must be against me.
Here's a link to the original butt-dialed voicemail, the one Coffey's lawyers say it's illegal to publish, because Reasons. The recording has already been broadcast on Anchorage radio and published in Anchorage newspapers, but Coffey's lawyers are going to do their damnedest to put this toothpaste back in the tube.
Hey, why don't you click on one of the share buttons at the top of this post and make life a little tougher for Dan Coffey's lawyers? Try it, it's fun!
Follow Dan on Twitter.