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Top speakers in Vegas, but what they say is all off the record

Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, shown in 2011, was one of trhe speakers this week at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT, held this week at the Bellagio. (Sam Morris)
Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, shown in 2011, was one of trhe speakers this week at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT, held this week at the Bellagio. (Sam Morris)
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Updated: 5/11/2013 10:18 am
By Eli Segall

Hey! You, with the pen and pad! Don’t even THINK about writing anything!

Over there! You, with the iPhone! Do NOT press record!

And you! With the camera! Drop it!

The investment industry’s SkyBridge Alternatives Conference, or SALT, held this week at the Bellagio, featured a who’s who of global politics and business.

The speaker’s list included former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Duke University basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Wall Street billionaires John Paulson and Daniel Loeb.

But despite the fact that thousands of people watched them talk, not a word of what they said can be shared publicly.

Conference organizers mandated that everything said and done by the high-profile guests, who have given hundreds of interviews and made countless public speeches over the years, was completely “off the record.”

“‘Off the record’ includes all transcription, quoting and recording regardless of the medium (e.g., print, film, videotape, audiotape, any form of social media, other digital format, etc.) and applies to all areas of the event, whether the speaker is on stage or in an informal setting,” according to SALT public relations representative Kate McGann.

Priebus’ scheduled speech about the future of the Republican Party was closed completely to the media, as was Sarkozy’s keynote address.

Six other speakers fell into a gray area. As McGann put it, they could not be “recorded and/or photographed in any form (e.g., film, videotape, audiotape, etc.) but are open to ‘pencil press.’”

Perhaps note-taking was allowed?

Those six included GOP political operative Karl Rove, former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, UC Berkeley Business Professor Laura D’Andrea Tyson (a member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness) and Hoover Institution Research Fellow Lanhee Chen (former policy director of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign).

McGann didn't disclose what punishment would lay in store for violators, nor did she explain why some speakers were off (or kind of on) the record.

But she did note that conference organizers have “the right to deem any session as OFF-THE-RECORD and/or closed to press.”

McGann did not return a call for comment.

To be fair, most of the people lined up to speak at SALT were on the record, including actor Al Pacino, movie director Oliver Stone, billionaire real estate mogul Sam Zell and numerous finance executives.

Also, SALT was a private event on private property, which meant organizers could set their own rules.

“They can do whatever they want,” said Yvette Monet, a spokeswoman for Bellagio owner MGM Resorts International.
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