December 16, 2012

Trackers now videotape politicians year-round

The increasingly common practice, even outside of campaign season, angers Gov. LePage and others.

By GLENN ADAMS The Associated Press

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Gov. Paul LePage’s refusal to meet with Democratic legislative leaders until he is no longer being followed by a tracker has brought attention to the practice employed by Republicans and Democrats and political action committees.

2012 Associated Press File Photo

"There are really no boundaries these guys won't cross," said Emmons.

In Maine, LePage said the tracker went too far when he taped the governor speaking with an elderly veteran who was in poor health, though video that was eventually published showed no conversation between Le- Page and the elderly veteran.

"There was no need to have filmed this private discussion for political purposes," said LePage, who is well-known for his blunt off-the-cuff statements that sometimes veer into gaffes.

The 23-year-old tracker, Brian Jordan, denied the governor's claim on the Maine Democratic Party's website.

"Despite what's been said, I don't record private conversations. I don't sit outside his home waiting to videotape him or his wife going to the grocery store. I'm not lurking in the bushes or planting hidden video cameras," Jordan wrote. "I just record his public appearances."


Nevertheless, the governor demanded that Democrats call off their tracker. They've refused. So in turn, LePage is refusing to sit down with Democratic legislative leaders at a critical time, when the state's elected leaders need to introduce their plans for the next session to each other.

The back and forth points to one of the negative impacts of tracking, said political science Assistant Professor Christopher Mann at the University of Miami, who questioned whether LePage is using what happened with the tracker as a reason to stop governing.

"That seems like a rather disproportionate reaction," Mann said.

The practice "is really just a new media reality that we're living," said Democratic strategist Colin Rogero of Revolution Media in Washington.

Those who wish it away "are standing in the way of the communications train."


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