This isn’t really about Donald Sterling, the now-infamous owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s about what made him a household name. Audio recordings have been causing businessmen and politicians problems for years. What are the rules?
Some states require that everyone involved in a conversation know it is being recorded. In Virginia, however, only one party to a conversation needs to know (see Virginia Code § 19.2-62.B.2). So if you and I have a conversation, either of us can record it without telling the other. But nobody else can record it without telling one of us.
While it may be okay legally to record conversations, that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. Just ask Donald Sterling, or Richard Nixon.