"I would never condone audio because I think it's illegal," Thornton said. "I would never condone doing anything illegal."
"I certainly condone anything that is in the interest of public and workplace safety," DeLong said. He later added that anything threatening "the reputation of the agency" could also prompt such surveillance.
Perry quizzed DeLong and Thornton repeatedly about their knowledge of this surveillance, as did Sens. Mike Green and William Laird.
Green, a Raleigh County Democrat, asked without success whether the device reflected concerns about employee performance issues. Laird, D-Fayette, questioned whether the agency was concerned that such a device had apparently been planted in a sensitive state office.
"I've run some agencies and departments in my lifetime," said Laird, a former sheriff and Perry's co-chair. "If something shows up in my office, I want to know where it came from and who put it there."
Perry suggested that the committee could go into executive session, excluding the public, to get some answers but did not make that request. Both DeLong and Thornton said they would have to talk to agency lawyers before taking part in such a closed-door forum.
The authority's board voted in August to name DeLong its executive director. A former House majority leader, DeLong had previously been acting in that capacity.