Tracy Conroy Secretly Tapes Conversation

In an unfortunate development in the public integrity arena, the Muckraker has learned that Tracy Conroy, 2015 School Board Chair candidate, surreptitiously taped a telephone conversation with Potomac District School Board representative Justin Wilk.  Mr. Wilk learned of the personal violation when Conroy posted details of their conversation on Facebook and acknowledged her use of a recording device.  At the time of their conversation, Wilk was unaware that he was being recorded.

 

The conversation at issue occurred after the long March 2, 2016, School Board meeting at which the School Board voted 8-0 to name a new school after late firefighter Kyle Wilson and rename Mills E. Godwin Middle School after county resident George M. Hampton.  Conroy was strongly opposed to the board’s action in renaming Godwin Middle School.  Her disagreement with Wilk (who had moved the name change at the meeting) resulted in a series of tense online messages between the two on the night of the school board meeting.  By the end of the online exchange tempers had cooled and the two agreed to speak the following day.  It was the conversation on the following day that Conroy taped without Wilk’s knowledge.

 

Virginia is a one-party consent state, which means it is legal to tape a private conversation provided one of the parties (even just the party doing the recording) is aware that they are being taped.  The practice is considered highly unethical, however, unless all parties consent, unless part of a legitimate law enforcement activity, or unless used to protect an individual from false claims or threats related to the conversation.  None of these appear to apply in this instance.  Based on Conroy’s subsequent actions her primary goal in secretly taping the conversation was apparently to embarrass Wilk, to cause tension between him and other school board members, and to potentially intimidate him into reversing his vote.  Conroy posted details of the conversation on Facebook and revealed that she had recorded it.

 

This highly unethical conduct drew swift rebukes questioning Conroy’s public integrity and fitness for office.  An email blast from a presumed Wilk supporter summarized Conroy’s actions and warned any who might speak to her to be aware that their conversation might be recorded without their knowledge.

 

Conroy approached the Republican Party about obtaining their endorsement for School Board Chair in the most recent election, but chose not to go through the process, with prominent Republicans having already endorsed Tim Singstock.  Conroy instead ran without a party endorsement, effectively splitting the Republican vote and handing the chair’s seat to the Democratic-endorsed candidate, Ryan Sawyers.  Wilk was also endorsed by the Democrats. Conroy has been open about her continued desire to obtain a seat on the School Board.  She administers a blog focused on county schools that she changed to private-group status the day she taped her conversation with Wilk.

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26 comments on “Tracy Conroy Secretly Tapes Conversation

  1. -

    This is truly unfortunate and reflects a continued breakdown in basic human civility. I don’t think Tracy Conroy is generally a bad person and she certainly knows better than to do something like this. She must have gotten caught up in the heat of the issue and not thought this through. She should apologize to Wilk and remove the material from Facebook. That would set things right.

  2. -

    It looks like her brief political career is over.

  3. -

    I find it hard to believe that Tracy Conroy would do this on her own. She’s not that kind of person, and is certainly smart enough to know that this is unethical, especially if she wants to represent people as an elected official. What voter would ever trust a private conversation with her. This has Lisa Bell written all over it.

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      I take exception to one of your statements: those who know Tracy know that she is not smart.

  4. -

    It’s a good thing the self processed “educational reformer” didn’t win the race for Chair, she is ethically challenged and should not be elected or appointed to anything in PWC. Those who know her have remarked, “…it’s really all about Tracy…” the belief being she will do or say anything that keeps her name in the public eye. Gil Trenum should keep an eye on her, he’s likely to be next since Conroy has told several confidants that she will be Trenum’s replacement before his term is up.

  5. -

    People seem so surprised over this — I haven’t trusted Tracy Conroy for years.

    BTW — Great start — and good luck with your blog!

  6. -

    The subject of this post is not the relative merits of the late Mills E. Godwin and George M. Hampton, but the secret taping of a public official. As a result, comments regarding the former have been removed as irrelevant to the post in question.

  7. -

    Speaking of ethics:

    Did you bother to note that the reason she recorded the conversation was to have proof that she was being harassed by Wilk on facebook? Nope?

    Journalistic integrity,,,not.

    [Prince William Muckraker editors note: We eventually heard this assertion being made, but thought it was either false and/or would unnecessarily make Conroy look ridiculous, since if Conroy was being harassed on Facebook she could prove that by printing out the Facebook posts or messages. Recording a conversation in that context made no sense.]

  8. -

    Virginia is a one party of consent state. Nothing illegal or unethical given the circumstances.

  9. -

    She did post them, just not on your “blog” Try research. It’s this new thing journalists do.

    [Prince William Muckraker Editors Note: Anon, that is the point. We did the research. Since Conroy could publish the proof of any harassing posts, comments, or messages that came to her by Facebook, how would secretly taping a conversation be necessary or capable of providing proof? Obviously, it wouldn’t. This argument is so ridiculous that we’re beginning to suspect it’s coming from someone who is trying to make Tracy Conroy look worse.]

  10. -

    Tracy … err … “anon”, you’re not helping your case.

  11. -

    Conroy’s actions were not illegal, but were absolutely and completely unethical. She really should apologize to Wilk.

  12. -

    The issue here is not the legal recording of a conversation. Perhaps you should address whether or not Justin W. made the comments and then worry about the legalities of recording the conversation.

    Where do you stand if everything said in the conversation is TRUE? If it’s TRUE then Mr. Wilk should resign IMMEDIATELY!

    Address that issue and then come talk to me about ethics!

  13. -

    Concerned citizen. I am not Tracy., but by all means take the easy way out instead of actually defending your position.

    (crickets)

  14. -

    Nothing unethical at ALL. Conroy is a private citizen. Try again Integrity Needed.

  15. -

    We’ve received a number of additional heated comments from one or more people promoting the idea that Conroy taped the conversation to prove she was being harassed on Facebook. It is hard to make out exactly what the argument is, however. If the party or parties that are arguing this will explain exactly what they are saying, we will consider posting it. Are you saying that Conroy was receiving threatening Facebook posts or messages from Wilk where Wilk was using a fake name? If so, what names were being used and what made you think that? We’re not going to print what we believe are fabrications or random speculation.

  16. -

    Tracy … err … “anon” (such an easy mistake) … methinks thou dost protest too much.

  17. -

    Anon has now submitted a comment that implies a possible intention to hack this website. This naturally brings into question the accuracy of all of Anon’s submissions. As necessary, we will, of course, prosecute any such hacking attempts to the fullest extent of the law.

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      If there was an email or written threat to hack a business, I note you are a VA corporation then this constitutes a violation of several Virginia criminal laws. Talk to the Commonwealth s Attorney who will assign an investigator and quickly determine the perp

  18. -

    @Lisa, what comments of Wilk’s are you referring to? How did he threaten her on Facebook? Looks like they argued and called each other some names but it doesn’t anywhere appear that they threatened each other in any way. Aren’t/weren’t they friends?

  19. -

    Anonymous (who referenced @Lisa),

    We have posed a very similar question to two people whose comments indicate that Conroy taped the conversation because she was being threatened on Facebook. By email we have asked for evidence of something that is a threat as opposed to simple name calling in a disagreement. So far we have received nothing, either in a comment or by email, and we do not know if the email addresses we were given by the two commenting are valid.

  20. -

    I read the excerpt of the conversation on Tracy’s blog, and the entire conversation seems to be between two friends upset with each other. Not only was recording the conversation unethical, she sounds like a crappy friend.

  21. -

    It seems pretty clear what happened here. Conroy and Wilk got into because they disagreed about Godwin. Maturity is an issue here. Let’s face it, should grownup elected officials or hope to be elected officials be arguing like this on Facebook? Maybe it’s learned behavior from Donald Trump tweets. Conroy really escalated things when she taped Wilk and then started posting excerpts. That’s a breakdown in decent behavior, but it probably happened either in the heat of the moment because she was agitated about facing criticism on Facebook or someone suggested it to her. Then before she knew it she was too far down the path and feels like apologizing would be a sign of weakness. Trumpism strikes again. Everybody makes mistakes. Even Trump. He is just not big enough to admit it.

  22. -

    How is Wilk harassing her when she asked him to call her?

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      It’s not. The whole thing is just silly. The excerpt she posted is clearly a fight between two friends.

  23. -

    The ethical violation here is clear and it is because of what Conroy did with the tape. As the main post explains, it is not unethical for Conroy to tape a conversation to protect herself against threats or false claims about the taped conversation. But if there are no threats or false claims about the conversation then there is no justification for her revealing its contents. What makes it clear that Conroy was out to embarrass Wilk is that she released excerpts of the taped conversation that in no way imply threats or imply that Wilk was making false claims about the conversation. Conroy may originally have intended only to use the tape if it revealed threats or false claims, but when it did not, she went ahead and released excerpts anyway, a fact for which there is no other explanation than to embarrass Wilk. This is what makes her conduct so unethical. In the end, she used the tape not to defend herself from anything, but instead to embarrass or pressure Wilk.

    From the little I know of Tracy Conroy I am surprised that she would do something like this. I firmly believe she was talked into it by someone who had nothing to risk themselves by encouraging Conroy to do it, and now Conroy is left as the one who looks bad. Whoever that person is or persons are is who Conroy should be mad at. They gave her really bad advice or pressured her into something an ethical person does not do.

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