Politician Caught In An Affair On His Own CCTV System

Many worry about surveillance systems being used by the government against the people. Now, here is a case where the system humiliated, and may potentially derail, a politician's career, crazy enough from video leaked off his own office's surveillance system.

Take a look at the make out session surveillance video:

Besides the fact that this Congressmen was dumb enough not to realize he had a surveillance camera 3 feet away from him, notice how the video was captured. This was NOT an export but a person who filmed the video being played back using their phone.

Any time a politician cheats, there's media coverage (e.g., see this article).

Beyond the shock value of the video / incident, it does raise real questions:

  • Who has access to the surveillance recordings?
  • What type of privacy issues / concerns does this type of 'distribution' raise?

I'll add as a third question - what is the rule / policy of using a surveillance system to monitor employee romances? Surely, many people like to gossip about such things but is it really an issue for the company to observe, know, share?

Rather than romances specifically, how common is it to use the system to monitor employees for behaviour that violates policy in general? Many companies have "anti-fraternization" policies, in which case watching for things like this WOULD be a "relevant" purpose.

That's a good point, though I am not sure how well this will do for employee morale to enforce such policies with surveillance sex tapes...

I've heard stories over the years that at investment banks, where you have kids straight out of college pulling 100 hundred hou weeks, that such incidents were regularly caught on tape but were typically ignored because they did not want to create employee / management issues.

Certainly though in this case it's far more severe since it was not used by management but to punish an 'employee'.

Well, I don't know that using video to enforce anti-fraternization policies is inherently any worse than using it for any other policy infractions (whether you agree with that itself is a whole other discussion!), although there is that added creepy" factor that someone is watching you "getting busy".

I agree, it's probably better off for morale that policy infractions in general are better NOT addressed via surveillance, except maybe to back up other allegations in extreme circumstances. Nevermind the "sex tapes", it's not a very enjoyable working environment if you know your manager is sitting godlike up in his office watching and reviewing your every move.

As far as "access to the recordings" this almost looks like someone shooting the live display with their phone, so access to the playback isn't even a question (I agree, it is a question in the grand scheme).

As for privacy issues, that's a trickier one... nobody is readily identifyable from this clip (except maybe to those who actually know them), so without the person releasing the video announcing who it is, it shouldn't be much of a public embarrassment. I certainly would never know it was a politician, let alone a Congressman, without you telling me.

Reminds me of that story from a couple years ago, the video of the woman texting and falling into the mall fountain: she tried to claim public humiliation for the video being released to the world, but the fact is, if she'd kept her mouth shut, nobody outside of maybe her own family would have know who the person in the video was. Granted, being caught cheating has somewhat more far-reaching consequences...

Good memory on the women falling into the mall fountain! I thought immediately of that as well :)

I believe it was a security guard who allowed filming with a phone, leading to them being fired.

And I think that in Canada, cameras like this in an office would not be generally allowed, correct?

Just because someone is not 'easily identifiable' does not mean security cameras can be used to humiliate them or cause them personal problems?

I've never heard of any prohibitions on having cameras in office spaces... our restaurant chain client has a camera in the office in every site, as well as in the "open" staff areas (both to watch for theft from employees, and to keep tabs on their cash-out areas). Many sites have cameras in places like staff lunch rooms as well. Unless there's a "reasonable expectation of privacy" (washrooms, etc.) there's no reason I know of that a site wouldn't be allowed to have cameras.

My experience with professional buildings, landlords or property managers wouldn't go to the expense of putting cameras into tenant spaces... and I doubt most tenants would want building management snooping on their businesses. Plus these spaces are usually renovated to some degree between tenants, which may include moving of walls, and/or shuffling of ceiling tiles to alter lighting, etc., which would lead to cameras being moved, re-oriented, or blocked - there's just no point. Management would only have cameras in the common areas, like hallways, building lobbies, parking garages, etc.

No, in a site like this, the cameras within a rental space are almost certainly installed by the tenant... although in Canada at least, I believe the space is leased by a non-partisan government agency and is occupied on a rotating basis by whatever elected party representative is in it for that term. As such, there would be little physical change to the office on a regular basis, other than things like decor and furnishings.

In any case, I doubt it could be said the people in the video didn't know there was a camera there. It's obviously an IR camera, so probably not anything covert. More likely, as we've seen and discussed elsewhere, they're simply oblivious to it as they would be to any other ceiling fixture.

Well, a politician's office isn't a restaurant. There are federal prohibitions related to cameras/recording in federal in office spaces. On a state and local level and are usually restricted unless specific permission is given by the agency. Some of them were birthed in response to spying by political opponents. Others were birthed to protect information or regulate who can record court proceedings - and even a lot of those are on a case by case basis.

Also, the office he was renting was formerly another congressman's office. He just took over the lease. So unless he decided to install a new system, that system was probably already there. So yeah, I still think whoever owns the building likely owns the system and it's probably operated by someone managing the building or managing security there. Oh, and not to mention the property owner is also a major contributor to the opposing campaign.

All of this information is publicly available through property records, election records and Google.

I don't know how the various laws work in the US - John was asking me about how it works in Canada. I was using the restaurant example specifically, but I've put cameras in offices for all manner of businesses. Government spaces aside, an office is an office regardless of the type of business it is, and I'm not aware of any CANADIAN laws that prohibit the leaseholder from putting cameras anywhere in it that doesn't have inherent "reasonable expectation of privacy".

If the system was already there, it was probably installed by the/a previous tenant in that space; unless their intent is actually to spy on the tenants, I don't see building management putting surveillance in leased space - not only would most tenants not like it, but I've never run into building management that would spend the money for it (most of them barely want to spend the money to cover common areas).

Now it's entirely possible the management KNOWS the system is there and has access to it...

Besides, if the building management has a political axe to grind and is just looking to collect dirt on the office's occupants, one would expect the cameras to be covert, but given the big IR spot that comes on when the guy turns off the light, I really don't think this camera is hidden.

I don't think anyone thinks or implied that the camera was hidden.

I don't know who put the cameras there. Actually none of us do. So all of this is basically speculation.

One of the questions posed on the original post was: Who has access to the surveillance recordings?

All I said was that it is LIKELY that the property owner or the previous tenant installed the cameras. Which means its probably unlikely that "his own" cameras caught him or that he knew the extent of the system whether or not a camera was in plain sight. If he was hyperaware of a camera he probably wouldn't be kissing his mistress in front of one.

See Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada 'Privacy in the Workplace' Fact Sheet. Obviously, I do not know how it is enforced but the fact that Canada actually has a 'privacy commissioner' and issues such guidelines for workplaces goes far beyond the US.

Of course, Canada is more similar to the European approach to privacy rights than the US.

Well, I doubt it was his own surveillance system and that he knew where all the cameras were or anything about when they were recording since many local politicians have their local offices in rented space (especially junior politicians). That same building houses an architectural firm and possibly another business too.

Maybe there was a security guard who was familiar with all the people coming and going who caught it? Funny/interesting video is easier to send to other people you want to show it to if you record the screen straight to your phone, or at least that's what one operator told me.

Interesting so do you think this was the landlord's / property manager's system?

All good points about privacy, etc. I for one would question the placment of camera # 8 that caught the make out session as it also appears to be looking at the intrusion keypad and could (could) be used to obtain someones PIN for arming and dis-arming. I always try to position cameras to not catch such items that could be brought into question later...