After apparently watching too many James Bond marathons, the Michigan Republican Party equipped some of its staff members with eyeglasses outfitted with high-tech hidden cameras to track Democratic candidates.
The Detroit News reported last week that Michigan Democrats had come into possession of a disk recorded from a secret camera that had been used to spy at a campaign fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer. The amateur snoops ate appetizers, discussed the interior design of the private home where the fundraiser took place and chatted with other attendees.
The Michigan Republican Party did not deny their methods and in fact volunteered to the News that the trackers had been using spyglasses with a secret camera installed in the frames.
“Republicans do it; Democrats do it,” Darren Littell, communications director for the state GOP, told the News. “People use different ways to get the footage. … This is a newer approach.”
MSNBC got ahold of a more extensive video, posted to YouTube by Michigan Democrats, which showed trackers donning the glasses attending events for a number of state and federal candidates. In the opening clip, a man identified as Michigan GOP deputy research director John Howting explains to a protege how to represent herself when attending Democratic events.
“Say hi and then you give some story,” Howting says. “You just try to blend in.”
The video, clearly edited by the Democrats who found it at one of their events and complete with a Pink Panther soundtrack, chronicles the Republican sleuths at a number of campaign events for state Senate candidate Ryan Fishman, U.S. House candidate Susan Grettenberger and then a two-for-one with U.S. House candidate Debbie Dingell and state House candidate Kristy Pagan.
One tracker does his best with small talk, admitting that he’s a high school student too young to vote and talking up his surfing experience. “Those people are weird as f**k,” he remarks as he appears to leave the event. Another takes the camera into a bathroom stall — and keeps the camera running — more than once.
What’s missing from the discovered video, which was subsequently edited and released by the Democrats, however, was one of the “gotcha” moments that these undercover missions were presumably supposed to surface. At a press conference for Grettenberger, one of the trackers asks if the candidate would have voted for the Affordable Care Act and receives a boilerplate answer about the need for everyone to have health coverage.
But maybe they just need some more practice.
“Did it sound, like, not staged?” the tracker asks nervously as she and an accomplice leave the Grettenberger event. “Do you think they knew?”
Image via YouTube