Municipal hall

City of Tatum faces allegations of secret municipal hall taping | Texas

Rumblings can again be heard in the already tumultuous town of Tatum as allegations arise of the discovery of a recording device hidden in the shared offices of the town clerk and town clerks.

Named or interviewed during the initial investigation, which was reportedly conducted by a member of the Texas Rangers Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, were employees of the Tatum Economic Development Corporation, former and current members of the Department of Tatum police, former and current council members, the former mayor and city employees.

Unable to specifically verify details, Tatum City Mayor Don Hall said, “This is an ongoing investigation and I cannot comment further.”

Doors to the offices of the Tatum Economic Development Corporation have been locked and signs posted refusing entry pending an investigation by Tatum Police Chief Jack Lanier, Jr., and whispers abound that TEDCO coordinator Janie Lassen was discouraged from entering the facility until the investigation was completed.

Tatum Volunteer Fire Department Chief and regularly hired municipal election overseer Rayford Gibson, after hearing whispers of the discovery of the device, alerted city officials to the possibility that the recent municipal elections have occurred within sight or within audio range of the recording device. Intentions were expressed to file a formal report with the Secretary of State’s office, but no final word was received.

Although public recording is a constitutionally protected action and Texas single-party consent laws generally eliminate instances of unlawful recording, Texas Penal Code Section 16.02 explains that interception, unlawful use or disclosure of wired, oral or electronic communications becomes an offense with the person:

(1) intentionally intercepts, attempts to intercept, or induces another person to intercept or attempt to intercept, any wire, oral or electronic communication;

(2) intentionally discloses or attempts to disclose to another person the contents of a wired, oral or electronic communication if the person knows or has reason to know that the information was obtained by interception of a wired communication , oral or electronic in violation of this subsection;

(3) intentionally uses or attempts to use the content of a wired, oral or electronic communication if the person knows or is reckless that the information was obtained by interception of a wired, oral or electronic in violation of this paragraph;

(4) knowingly or intentionally performs covert entry for the purpose of intercepting wired, oral, or electronic communications without a court order or authorization; Where

(5) intentionally uses, attempts to use, or induces any other person to use or attempt to use any interception device to intercept any oral communication.

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