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Tennessee attorney general opens criminal investigation of Nashville DA Glenn Funk's office, letter shows

Investigation follows NewsChannel 5's ongoing investigation of allegations of wiretapping, misuse of office resources
Posted: 3:53 PM, Feb 20, 2023
Updated: 2023-02-20 19:29:40-05
Glenn Funk Interview.jpeg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has opened a criminal investigation into Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk's office following a series of disclosures by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

In a letter delivered last week, the AG's office notified Funk that they are "investigating whether any official in your office has violated any criminal law." NewsChannel 5 obtained that letter through a public records request.

While not precluding other areas of concern, the letter details a specific interest by Skrmetti's office into whether anyone on Funk's team violated the state's wiretapping statute by installing listening devices in and around the DA's office in downtown Nashville. The existence of those devices was first revealed byNewsChannel 5 Investigates.

The letter instructs the Nashville Democrat to preserve all evidence "regarding the purchase, installation, maintenance, and operation of recording devices," as well as the audio recordings themselves and any communications about those recordings.

Skrmetti's notice came the day after NewsChannel 5 revealed that Funk's team had installed listening devices in areas around the DA's office capable of picking up conversations of employees and visitors who are not warned about the audio monitoring.

In a written statement, Funk's office did not dispute the findings of the NewsChannel 5 investigation. Instead, they insisted it was a necessary part of office security and that "there is no reasonable expectation of privacy for conversations in public places."

The DA sent a letter to Skrmetti's office, insisting that investigators immediately review security procedures and clear the DA's office.

"We have never conducted any unauthorized audio or video recording of any area where a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy," Funk wrote. "We know what the law allows and what the law prohibits."

But others pointed to federal and state wiretapping laws that make it a crime to record conversations of unsuspecting individuals in places where they think they are alone.

"A person who tries to record something privately, no matter what the motivation is, is violating the law," said veteran Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn, a former federal prosecutor who has litigated cases involving the wiretapping laws.

In addition to the wiretapping concerns, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has also revealed:

NewsChannel 5 previously reported that state and Metro auditors had shown an interest in those allegations. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had declined to say whether it was involved in the investigation.

Funk has denied any wrongdoing.

This is a developing story. Watch NewsChannel 5 at 6 and 10 for new details.

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NC5 Investigates: The DA's Deals