Take a look at this video before continuing to read. I encourage you to watch the entire, paint-drying minute and five seconds:
To you and me and every reasonable person with an ounce of compassion, this looks like a nursing home. But if you’re a sleazy, Democratic political operative, this looks like juicy, salacious oppo research, because the nursing home is owned by Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), who’s locked in a tight race with rank liberal, Betty Sutton (D-Redistricted). Never mind that there’s perhaps a family inside that nursing home, holding granny’s hand as she slips into eternity. Did the photographer lurking in the bushes catch the moment of death with the telephoto lens? Was he hoping to catch some evidence of pain and suffering from an Alzheimer’s patient as he zoomed in on the window? What kind of sick person and sick party does that?
Unfortunately, Renacci’s businesses haven’t been the only target of these “trackers” (as they’re euphemistically called) – they’ve also been photographing his home. In a letter to the editor to the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday he wrote:
“Recently, political operatives from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee kicked down what’s left of the barrier that separates public and private life by posting Internet videos they’d covertly taken of the home where my wife and daughter sleep at night.”
“Note that the YouTube account name is the same – CA09RawFootage – and that the date on the second video (11/28/2011) was the same one as the Gill, 11-28-11 Boalt School of Law video mentioned above. In other words, these videos appeared to be part of the CA09RawFootage account, but were removed sometime between the Ricky Gill campaign noticing their existence, and the Daily Caller article reporting on them. All of this is important because the DCCC did not take responsibility for these specific videos: “Representatives for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the liberal group American Bridge — the George Soros-funded group that sends trackers to follow Republicans — did not respond to inquiries asking them if they are behind the videos.”
This led me to do a bit of investigative work and it didn’t take long to figure out that there is a whole network of these videos. In fact, there are YouTube channels for nearly every competitive congressional race in the country. At least, for the Republican candidates. If you want to search for your district, go to YouTube, type the two-letter state abbreviation, the district number, and “RawFootage” (with no spaces) into the search bar. So, for Rep. Renacci’s district, the YouTube channel is OH16RawFootage. There are eight such-channels in Ohio alone, though in fairness, the creepy house-stalking videos are the exception.
As I was researching this, it wasn’t long before I realized that there were no “RawFootage” channels for senate candidates. Not one. Zero. So is this a project of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), “whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way”?
Rep. Renacci is my congressman and I spoke to him yesterday about the situation. Here is what he is dealing with:
“I have two trackers following me all the time. We have asked where they are from and they are required to tell us. One indicates he is with the DCCC. The other says he is with American Bridge.”
“If you’re wondering where all the footage for Democratic attack ads will come from, look no further. For 2012, American Bridge will be the Democrats’ unofficial opposition research wing…
“…Their new goal: build a comprehensive video library for Democratic ad makers to use to defeat Republican House and Senate candidates — and, of course, the eventual Republican presidential nominee.”
The DCCC website gives some additional insight about the extent to which Democrats will go to destroy our candidates. You may recall that last week Media Trackers reported some sort of intel leak of the Democrats’ opposition research and they published the leaked research books of a dozen GOP candidates. Somewhere along the way (exactly when is a question being debated), the DCCC just went into all-out document dump mode and published “Research Books” on dozens of candidates. Click on a state, choose a candidate, and most of them will have either a “Clipbook,” a “Research Book,” or both [Warning: if you are logged into Google, someone else viewing the document may be able to ‘see’ your identity. I suggest that you log out of all Google applications before viewing]. The “Research Books” are extensive, some of them running 300+ pages. Renacci, who is a very wealthy member of congress with extensive business experience has one such file. Every home he’s purchased is documented, including his current home, complete with photographs. Every business deal he’s ever made is included and every complaint filed by a nursing home resident is documented.
Whether all this should be fodder for a campaign is probably a discussion for another diary. But I will just say one thing. This kind of research has gone on for decades and is nothing new. In the past, campaigns (and often the media) have held this information and released what they thought was necessary to win. However, a public document dump this substantial on a large number of congressional candidates is unprecedented. It is likely to have a chilling effect on the decisions of future candidates to run for office. Potential candidates will have to think long and hard, knowing their families, businesses, and business partnerships will be subjected to this new form of public scrutiny. In Rep. Renacci’s words, “My whole life is in there.” Those are sobering words and we all ought to be alarmed and saddened by this “new frontier” the Democratic hacks have led us to.
But getting back to the DCCC site, an interesting feature of each candidate’s page on the site is that they all contain links to each candidate’s “RawFootage” channel on YouTube.
So we know the following three things:
1. The RawFootage channels are limited to congressional candidates. Republican congressional candidates. There are no Democrats and no senate candidates.
2. Rep. Renacci has indicated that he has two full-time stalkers: one from the DCCC and one from American Bridge.
3. The DCCC has direct links to the RawFootage channels from the individual candidate pages on their website.
So either the DCCC is behind the RawFootage channels (including the invasive home stalking videos), or it’s American Bridge PAC. It seems more likely that it’s the DCCC.
Scenario 1: If this is American Bridge PAC, there would be a serious problem. Because, you know, a political party coordinating with a SuperPAC would be a violation of campaign finance laws, which would be considered very bad form, even for immoral, gutless, creepy stalkers.
Scenario 2: Imagine if someone wanted to skirt the FEC laws. Say the DCCC posted these videos (and the oppo research) in the public domain, because if they put it out there for everyone to see, then anyone, including their favorite SuperPAC, could use the videos, right? Say the DCCC is acting as a research arm, but someone like American Bridge is using the research and their millions of dollars in PAC money is going to destroy our candidates with ads. Wouldn’t that be clever?
But corporations are not people!! Citizens United and all that.
This could go far beyond the creepy stalking, as treacherous as that is. If these videos start showing up in SuperPAC ads, there ought to be an FEC investigation of the DCCC.
As Moe often admonishes us, ALWAYS take a camera when attending political events, especially now, if you are attending an event with a targeted candidate. I’d even suggest contacting your candidate’s campaign when you arrive and finding out who the stalkers are – they’ll know. Stand near them and keep your own camera running. We don’t have to stoop to their level, but we will let them know we know who they are and we can let our candidates and members of congress know that we have their backs.
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