A city councilwoman's taping of phone conversations has upset her colleagues, who called the practice appalling and a breach of public trust.
Three tapes of the phone conversations were turned into Mayor George Stewart last month by the brother of Councilwoman Shari Holweg. Holweg is also running for lieutenant governor as Democrat Jim Bradley's running mate.Stewart said David Gardiner handed over the tapes because he felt his sister's recording of conversations with council members and staff, without their knowledge, had compromised the integrity of the City Council.
But Holweg accused her brother of breaking the law by taking the tapes without her knowledge and claimed Stewart was an accomplice by listening to the tapes, then sharing them with the council, staff and news media.
Her attorneys have sent City Attorney Gary Gregerson a letter, warning against sharing information on tapes that have been obtained illegally.
"My husband and I feel as though the mayor and others have invaded our home, our privacy, the privacy of our bedroom where (the tapes) were kept, and the intimacy of our family and family matters," Holweg said.
In an interview with The Daily Herald, Stewart played a taped conversation in which Gardiner asks Holweg why she records her calls.
"When I am in the course of business or politics and the occasion calls to cover my butt, I will record a conversation," Holweg was quoted as answering her brother, who taped the conversation.
Stewart said he and Ted Dowling, executive director of the Office of the City Council, felt they had a responsibility to warn the council that their phone conversations with Holweg could be recorded.
Council members were livid when they were presented with the evidence.
"If she is taping people who telephone her, then any citizen who has called her can be appropriately angry," council Chairwoman Jane Carlile.
She called Holweg's actions a breach of ethics that will result in public mistrust of the entire council.
Despite the ethical issues raised by Holweg's secret tapings, Provo City Attorney Gary Gregerson said neither Holweg nor the mayor did anything illegal.He said state law permits secret recordings of private conversations as long as one of the parties involved consents.
The only exception to this rule, Gregerson said, is that recordings may not be used for the purposes of committing a criminal act or to pursue a lawsuit.
Stewart, who defeated Holweg for mayor in 1993, said he consented to review the tapes after Holweg's brother assured him that he had obtained the tapes legally.
Gardiner admits he took the tapes without Holweg's permission to expose what he said was his sister's unethical behavior.
He added that what the mayor heard was just a small portion. Gardiner claims his sister has recorded conversations with state legislators, neighborhood council members and a congressional candidate.
He also said his sister routinely tapes executive sessions and other council meetings with a small hidden recorder.
Holweg acknowledges taping meetings but maintains the recorder is in plain view of others.