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First Amendment Auditors: Protecting Your District & Board Meetings

Published on March 20, 2024

In today's digital age, board meetings are no longer just about policy and decision-making. They have become potential battlegrounds for clashing ideas and flashing cameras.  

To keep districts accountable and transparent, "First Amendment Auditors," or individuals who lawfully record and document government proceedings, exercising a legal compliance loophole, can impact your district or board meetings. While their stated aim is noble – shining a light on potential government missteps – their methods can be disruptive, raising questions about privacy and decorum.

While interference in district meetings can be annoying, it is best to stay calm. Prohibiting a First Amendment Auditor violates Free Speech and can hold the district, law enforcement, or any public official who forbids a First Amendment Auditor to serious litigation. One Colorado municipality agreed to pay a First Amendment Auditor $41,000 to settle a wrongful detention claim.


"While their stated aim is noble – shining a light on potential government missteps – their methods can be disruptive, raising questions about privacy and decorum. "

Here are some strategies for navigating First Amendment Auditors with patience and grace so your district can be ready for when they come.

Who are First Amendment Auditors?
First Amendment Auditors are members of the public interested in keeping public politics completely transparent. While their tactics can be aggressive – being armed with cameras, recording public spaces, including government meetings, and invading the personal privacy of public officials – they are exercising their rights under the First Amendment and are in accordance with state and federal laws. These recordings often end up online, raising awareness about potential legal violations.

How to Prepare and Respond:
While auditors have certain rights, so do you. Here are some steps to ensure a smooth and legally compliant response:

  1. Set Clear Policies: Review your recording and public access meeting policies. Are there designated areas for filming? Are there limitations on equipment usage? Communicate these policies at the meeting's start and instruct public officers or officials to require these auditors to meet these guidelines calmly.
  2. Remain Calm and Professional: Engaging in arguments or escalating the situation can backfire. Treat auditors with courtesy and avoid confrontations.
  3. Direct them to Designated Areas: Once a designated filming area is established, calmly direct First Amendment Auditors to those areas to minimize disruption. If confidential discussions are planned, move to a designated closed session or secure location.
  4. Document the Incident: Record the encounter, including the date, time, auditor's behavior, and any disruptions caused.
  5. Seek Legal Counsel if Needed: If unsure about the legal aspects when an auditor becomes disruptive, remain calm and consult your legal counsel immediately.

In Conclusion…
While some First Amendment Auditors are doing their due diligence in keeping their city’s operations transparent, some abuse this responsibility and instigate an adverse reaction from their local government, looking for an easy lawsuit. By understanding your rights and managing high-stress situations, you can minimize disruptions and protect your district or board's privacy. For further information and tailored guidance, see or please get in touch with your account team representative.

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