WHO’S ZOOMING WHO?
Early morning knocks on the door are typically unexpected. Imagine Katie Reiter’s surprise early on the morning of October 29, when, still in her robe, she opened the door to find an FBI special agent and a Birmingham police officer – all because of something she allegedly said over a Zoom call while working from home. Reiter, who is chief of staff for state Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Bloomfield Township, Beverly Hills, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Pontiac, Clarkston, Independence Township), was told they had a tip where she had discussed “the use of tear gas during the election.” Turns out, Reiter, Bayer and staff had been on a private Zoom call October 19 discussing proposed legislation that would ban tear gas, part of a package of proposed legislation in the wake of George Floyd’s death last summer. The call was routine for Reiter – but the FBI had no idea who she was or what she did, and when she told them, they did not stop their inquisition of her about the legislation. Prior to the pandemic, the information discussed over Zoom would have been held in a closed door meeting; both Reiter and Bayer have spoken of feeling like they were being intimidated. While Bayer, who before becoming a state senator worked in IT and as a software engineer, is particularly concerned about how law enforcement could have known what was said during a private Zoom call and if it was hacked, and felt it was meant to “cause fear and intimidation.” Reiter recalled she’d had an appliance serviceman in a nearby room that day, who may have alerted authorities, but authorities would not confirm that to her. Since 9/11, the FBI has had a policy of “see something, say something.”