Senate officials have put in new security measures after US Capitol Police arrested a Maryland man earlier this month for allegedly recording a closed-door Republican conference lunch with his phone, according to a report.
The 25-year-old, a temporary food service company worker, told police that he had recorded the March 7 meeting for “multiple hours” on his phone, which he left in the room, NBC News reported.
By the time the man returned with a police escort to retrieve his phone, one of the GOP lawmakers had already spotted it and given it to police, NBC reported, citing court documents.
The worker also “gathered trash” from the room that included a slideshow of what was discussed, the report said.
A charge of “interception/use of a wiretap,” a misdemeanor, was later dismissed.
“It’s really concerning,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., told the outlet. “Those conversations are an opportunity for senators to talk candidly about issues. So to have people on record and easily identifiable by their voices is problematic.”
The incident led Senate security officials to initiate new protocols for contractors and service staff members, including requiring workers to leave their cellphones in containers outside the meeting rooms before entering, the report said.
Senators routinely use the meetings to go over the party agenda for the week and strategize about upcoming legislation — and the details of the discussions are kept confidential.
A US Capitol Police spokesman told NBC that the agency “cannot publicly discuss any potential ongoing investigations at this time.”
The Senate sergeant at arms also did not respond to requests for information.
“It’s very concerning,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told the outlet.
“It was a temporary person hired on by the food service people,” he said. “The phone was left in the record mode found in the food line.”
The Maryland man, who was not identified by NBC News, claimed that he was married to the vice president of Liberia and “wanted to provide his ‘wife’ … with American political information.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Senate minority whip, said he thinks the incident was a “one-off thing.”
“The question I had was, did anyone put him up to it?” he said. “And to my knowledge, the answer is no.”