coalition logo
slogan for new york coalition for open government

The town supervisor insulted me in a recorded executive session. Can I share the recording on Facebook?

question and answers vector art


The town supervisor used insulting and obscene language towards me during the executive session of the town organizational meeting last night.

I recorded the session. I was wondering if I could post the audio clip of his abusive language on my facebook page. It doesn’t contain any mention of any town employee. 


Your question is an interesting one, with a lot of different parts to consider.
There is no law that states what is discussed in an executive session cannot be disclosed. With limited exceptions such as an individual’s health issues there is no requirement to discuss things in an executive session. An executive session is an option but a town could discuss everything in public.
Many school boards have policies that prohibit disclosing what has been discussed in an executive session and there have been instances where a school board member has been removed for disclosing executive session discussions.
You should check whether your town has a policy or rule regarding executive sessions.
In a 2011 court case an Erie County Supreme Court Judge ruled that recording an executive session was improper. The Judge stated in her decision:
“An issue did come up over a tape recording that someone did of an executive session of the School Board meeting that involved the Petitioner’s daughter. There is no question the taping of the executive session is improper and violates the confidentiality that is encompassed in the executive session.”
This is an Erie County lower court decision that is not binding on other courts. I am not aware of any other court decisions on this issue.
Below is an opinion from the NY State Committee on Open Government regarding the recording of executive sessions. 
While it is inappropriate for the town supervisor to insult you with obscene language, posting a recording from an executive session on your Facebook page may result in you being attacked for recording and posting executive session conversations. 
You could also bring the Supervisor’s behavior to light by posting about it on your Facebook page without posting the recording.