MILLER: Democratic stalkers

Posting videos of private homes crosses the line

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Democrats are a little too obsessed with class warfare. Their latest stunt has party operatives surreptitiously following and videotaping Republican members of Congress and their families in their homes. The idea is to post videos of their cars and houses in an attempt to suggest GOP lawmakers are wealthy, stoking social tension and dividing voters. In this, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has sunk to a new low.

The campaign arm of the House Democrats remains unapologetic about paying “trackers” - those hired to capture all public utterances of a candidate - to cross the line and record activity outside private homes. The videos are posted publicly on YouTube so leftist groups can use the footage in campaign ads. A DCCC spokesman refused to comment but told Politico that the videos show House Republicans are “trying to hide that they’re protecting benefits for millionaires and perks for themselves instead of protecting the middle class.”

One video reveals Rep. James B. Renacci’s Wadsworth, Ohio, home from across an empty residential street. The camera pans back and forth to highlight a nice brick home and landscaped yard, with just the sound of birds chirping in the background.

“It is reprehensible that the DCCC made a calculated decision to compromise my wife and daughter’s safety in an attempt to distract voters from my opponent’s failed record,” the freshman Republican, who is running against third-term Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton, told The Washington Times. “This is the worst form of gutter politics and a desperate attack from a career politician whose far-left voting record puts her well outside the mainstream in my district.”

Another stalker video apparently was taken from inside a car in front of the gray lakeside Wisconsin home of Rep. Reid J. Ribble. “Instead of focusing on the real issues such as jobs and the economy, the Democrats and my opponent have resorted to disturbing tactics, such as harassment and stalking,” the first-term Republican told The Washington Times.

Lawmakers are understandably concerned with their safety and that of their families after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was tracked and shot by a mentally ill man. While having aides follow candidates is nothing new, the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) has a policy of only allowing its trackers to attend events open to the public.

“Tracking is an accepted part of the modern campaign,” said NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay. “It goes a step further when families and private spaces are involved, and our trackers have been advised that such activity is a violation of our policy.”

Even ultraliberal talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg said she thinks her side of the aisle has gone too far. “I only think that’s valid if you yourself, Democratic people, are showing your houses and your families,” Miss Goldberg said on ABC’s “The View” on Monday. “Families are off-limits. Showing where somebody lives is off-limits. What the hell is wrong with y’all?”

The DCCC is just following the lead of President Obama, whose entire campaign strategy involves turning the public against wealthy people like Mitt Romney. As the head of his party, Mr. Obama should order an immediate end to these sordid tactics.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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