State senator says meeting was secretly taped

jbrammer@herald-leader.comFebruary 5, 2010 

FRANKFORT — When state Sen. Robin Webb met in her Capitol Annex office last week with the Republican candidate who wants to replace her and a representative of the Kentucky Medical Association, she was secretly videotaped, she said Thursday.

Webb, D-Grayson, said she resented the secret recording during a meeting with GOP rival Dr. Jack Ditty, and Dr. Henry Goodman, an Ashland neurologist.

Ditty is a Greenup County dermatologist who lost a special Senate election to Webb last year by 282 votes and has filed to run against her this year. Neither has an opponent in the May 18 party primary elections.

Goodman said Thursday he taped the meeting without Ditty's knowledge "to make sure Sen. Webb's comments about one of her bills were consistent with what she had been saying."

Ditty said he had "nothing at all to do with the taping" and said Goodman should have informed Webb at the beginning of the meeting that he was taping her.

Goodman said he did not think about doing that — even though Ditty said he told Goodman not to tape the meeting.

Senate Minority Leader Ed Worley, D-Richmond, said he does not believe Ditty and Goodman.

"They went to Sen. Webb's office under the guise that they were on legislative business to talk about a bill and she, as Dr. Ditty's senator, showed him the professional courtesy to meet with him, and that wasn't at all why they were here."

Worley said the two men "secretly tried to record her to see if they could get her to make an awkward statement or pick her nose or do something inappropriate that they could use in a campaign commercial."

"That is how low they have stooped."

Worley said the two men should apologize to Webb and that the event "speaks to Dr. Ditty's character."

Ditty called Worley's comments preposterous and accused him of "playing politics."

The meeting took place Jan. 27, when members of the KMA visited Frankfort to talk to lawmakers about their legislative agenda.

Webb said she had worked with Goodman on legislative issues in past years, when she was in the House. She said Goodman had e-mailed her about his opposition to a nurse-practitioner bill she was sponsoring and noted that he had copied the e-mail to Ditty.

Later, Webb said, Ditty requested a meeting with her and Goodman in her Frankfort office.

"I told him I would give him an hour because I'm his senator," she said.

Webb said she asked Mike Nickles, a legal staffer for Senate Democrats, to sit in on the meeting in case his expertise was needed.

Nickles did not return phone calls seeking comment.

During the meeting, Ditty and Goodman sat on a couch in front of Webb's desk, where she sat, Webb said.

She said they put "some gear between them," but she did not initially pay any attention to it.

"I know they taped me," Webb said. "I caught them. I asked them."

Webb said the meeting began cordially. About 10 minutes into it, she said, she heard a beep and thought it was a pager for one of the doctors.

She noted that Goodman then drank from a bottle of orange juice.

Ten minutes later, Webb said, she heard another beep and saw Goodman eating a candy bar. "I thought he had a problem with his glucose or something," she said.

About 10 minutes later, she said, she heard another beep and looked over her desk.

"I saw the black box that Ditty had placed between them and a round lens on it looking back at me. I asked if they were taping me," she said.

"Goodman said yes, and he put it in his coat pocket. He asked me if that's a problem. I tried to laugh it off, but it was so bizarre.

"I asked him 'Why would you do that?' He said he just wanted a tape, and Ditty said nothing."

Webb, an attorney, said she knows that state law allows for secret recordings as long as one party is aware of it but that she considered the taping strange and unprofessional.

"I spend many hours in this office. It's my home away from home," she said. "I don't think it's right for someone I've invited to this office to tape record me without my knowing it."

Goodman, a trustee of the KMA, said Webb and Worley are "in error if they're trying to blame Dr. Ditty. I told him before the meeting that I may tape it. He asked me not to do that, and we never discussed it again."

The camera, Goodman said, "was in front of everybody during the meeting. I did it on my own. The KMA had no knowledge of this.

"When Robin saw it and asked if she were being taped, I said yes. I asked if that was a problem and I thought that was the end of it.

"Apparently, someone wants to make this political."

Goodman said he erased the recording soon after the meeting. He said he visited other legislators that day but did not record them because his camera "ran out of time."

Ditty said that he knows Goodman professionally but that Goodman has not been involved with his campaign.

Ditty also said he was embarrassed when Goodman informed Webb that he had been taping the meeting.

"He should have told her at the beginning of the meeting, but he didn't," Ditty said. "That was that. There's no story here."

A spokesperson for the KMA could not be reached for comment.

Webb represents the 18th Senate District, which covers Mason, Bracken, Robertson, Carter, Greenup and Lewis counties.

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