The Barry University student who helped conservative firebrand James O’Keefe secretly record a videoshowing school staff supposedly support ISIS could be facing criminal charges, according to a local news station.
Laura Loomer, a senior studying communications, helped O’Keefe’s organization, Project Veritas, capture secret video of staff members at Barry apparently offering advice on how to start a pro-Islamic State organization. Loomer pretended that she wanted to start an organization, dubbed Sympathetic Students in Support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which would send humanitarian and financial aid to the Islamic State.
At one point in the video, a staffer for Barry suggests altering the group’s name, because “technically, we’re at war with ISIS.” Barry argues it is ludicrous to claim anybody at the school backs Islamic terrorism and says it is the victim of deception and misleading edits to the video.
Loomer has already been suspended and booted off Barry’s campus for her role in creating the video. Now, a staff member at the school says that his appearance in the video violated Florida criminal law governing the recording of conversations. (RELATED: Student Suspended For Helping With James O’Keefe Video)
According to the criminal complaint, the staff member found out that he had been recorded even before the video’s release, and notified Loomer that she could not release any audio or video recorded without his consent. When the video used footage of him anyway, he immediately filed a complaint with the police.
Florida one of a handful of “two-consent” states where recording a conversation requires the consent of everybody being recorded, rather than a single person. The law only applies, however, in situations where individuals have a “reasonable expectation of privacy,” such as in their homes. Whether such a reasonable expectation exists behind closed doors in a school office is unclear.
Under Florida law, an illegal recording can be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Even a lesser charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.
Project Veritas has publicly asserted that Loomer’s recordings were perfectly legal.
“Project Veritas’ video recordings at Barry University were accomplished within the spirit and letter of the law,” the group said, citing Section 934.2(2) of Florida’s statutory law. However, that section of Florida law does not indicate whether a school office constitutes a public space or a private one.
If Loomer really does end up being charged and convicted, it wouldn’t be a first for Project Veritas. O’Keefe himself and three collaborators were sentenced to several years of probation for breaking into the office of then-Sen. Mary Landrieu, apparently intending to bug her phone.