Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., speaks during a March news conference. Jenkins says that her new bill to expand taping rights will help citizens fight back against abusive federal regulators. (Getty Images)
Newly introduced legislation would expand citizens’ rights to record conversations with federal employees.
Under the bill by Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., most agency employees would have to allow individuals to tape phone or face-to-face conversations related to any alleged criminal or regulatory violation that could lead to fines, property forfeitures or other financial penalties. Agencies would also have to notify individuals — either verbally or in writing — of their right to tape. Federal employees could make their own recordings if they gave advance notice and agreed to provide a copy or transcript at the individual’s expense.
The measure, introduced Wednesday, could get a vote at a July 24 meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
At present, the law only permits individuals to record face-to-face conversations with IRS employees under certain circumstances, Jenkins said in a news release, adding that she has heard “story after story of federal regulators abusing their power.”
The bill, titled the “Citizen Empowerment Act,” would give individuals “a new tool to fight back and allow citizens to protect themselves or their businesses when a government official comes calling,” she said. Its provisions would not apply to conversations that could harm public safety, endanger a criminal investigation conducted by a federal law enforcement officer or involve classified information.
Representatives of several federal employee groups either declined comment or could not be reached late Friday afternoon.