(Politico) — Politicians recognize they give up a degree of privacy when they run for office.
But Democrats are testing the outer limits of that understanding with a practice that raises questions about when campaign tracking becomes something more like stalking.
While most serious campaigns on both sides use campaign trackers — staffers whose job is to record on video every public appearance and statement by an opponent — House Democrats are taking it to another level. They’re now recording video of the homes of GOP congressmen and candidates and posting the raw footage on the Internet for all to see.
That ratcheting up of the video surveillance game is unnerving Republicans who insist that even by political standards, it’s a gross invasion of privacy. Worse, they say, it creates a safety risk for members of Congress and their families at a time when they are already on edge after a deranged gunman shot former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords 18 months ago.
Wisconsin GOP Rep. Reid Ribble, who said he’s also been followed by a cameraman when shopping for groceries, said the home videos cross a line.
“I feel it’s totally inappropriate,” said Ribble, a freshman facing a competitive race for reelection. “It was disturbing to me that they would put that online. I don’t understand any political benefit that can be achieved with that.”
In Ribble’s case, a clip of his northeastern Wisconsin home appeared online June 18. The soundless video — which lasts 38 seconds — is taken from a car sitting just outside the house. The shot pans across the large home, showing it from several different angles.