Jason Carter’s every move, now on video

Several liberal Facebook friends of mine have delightedly shared today this piece from 11 Alive: ‘Political stalker’ does surveillance on Sen. Carter

From the piece:

When Democrat Jason Carter exits his office across from the Capitol, a Republican is almost always there to meet him. The man with blonde hair is a 22 year-old North Georgia College grad named Ben. He’s called a tracker. He simply videotapes his target wherever he can. […]

Ben politely declined comment. A spokesman for the Georgia Republican Party, Ryan Mahoney, said “his job during the (legislative) session is to monitor Sen. Jason Carter and to hold him accountable.”

And the tracker is becoming a routine part of the political landscape. “It’s a pretty common occurrence now to have them on both sides,” Mahoney said.

So how common is this? Do the Democrats have someone videotaping Deal? Are the Senate candidates tracking each other like this?

Frankly, I see nothing wrong with political opponents videotaping each other’s public events, but there’s an obvious political risk in seeming overly aggressive.

The piece makes a labored comparison to Romney’s 47% video, but that’s not a good analogy. I don’t know if Ben is tracking Carter’s private life after work hours, but clearly the videotaping at the capitol is being done openly and publicly. That’s a far cry from Romney’s remarks recorded by a hidden camera at a sort-of-private event.

Ben’s work could be much better compared to that of S.R. Sidarth, the native Virginian who was videotaping George Allen at a public event in 2006. Allen turned on Sidarth himself, and that “macaca incident” might have cost Allen a Senate seat and an eventual shot at the Presidency.

But how likely is it that Carter will do or say something so hypocritical or offensive within the confines of the Capitol that it can be used against him?

And how much damage is done when the practice itself gets publicity like this?


  1. Noway says:

    Every major campaign does it. I’d say the campaign manager that didn’t do it should be fired. Either party.

  2. TPNoGa says:

    The first time I have ever seen Jason Carter was his response to the State of the State. I was not impressed at all. In fact, he makes Deal look like a statesman. I don’t get what all the hubbub was all about. Kind of looked like a petulant teenager whining about his dad. Maybe he’ll be better in the future, but not a good start in my opinion.

    • Rich says:

      Carter’s lack of experience in front of a podium and boyish looks might work to his advantage. He doesn’t look the part of another career politician, despite the family history.

      In comparison Deal’s smug confidence is even more off-putting. A debate should be interesting.

      • Doug Deal says:

        Yeah, that’s what they always say until the election returns start coming in.

        In experience and a lack of confidence does not play well as a candidate for the highest executive in the state.

  3. NorthGAGOP says:

    Yes the senate candidates are being tracked by the democrats. You may remember the video of long time Congressman Kingston a few weeks ago.

    There is a video of David Perdue out today.

    You may also a post late last week by Jason and the two democrat trackers filming Karen Handel.

        • tdk790 says:

          Being that the Capitol is open to the public, a comparison to campaign offices, etc. is a bit different IMO.

        • Jason says:

          Handel is giving a public presentation there. Did they also follow her to and from her car or however else she arrived? Are they following her around all day? Does anyone know?

          Yes and no. It was a public presentation, but to a private group on private property. As one of the founders members of the group to which Handel was speaking, we opted not to ask the trackers to leave.

          Based on what I’ve been told, the two trackers have followed Handel to and from several other events. It’s not clear who employs the trackers in question, though suspicion is Nunn’s campaign, DPG, DSCC or a third-party group run by David Brock.

          • Bill Dawers says:

            Thanks for those details, Jason.

            I think that these issues — and the details around them — deserve fairly widespread airing.

            Re. the Handel event: if the general public was invited, even if it was on private property, I’d call that a public event. If it was billed as a presentation to a private group, I would not call that a public event.

            It would be interesting and newsworthy to know exactly who these Handel trackers are working for.

            I would hope that rival campaigns, political parties, and the general public would reject the idea that it’s OK just to follow candidates around all day with the camera rolling. Sure, film public events, but the sort of “stalking” that seems to be going on in the case of Carter, and maybe in the case of Handel, strikes me as unacceptably intrusive. Of course, I might be in the minority on this.

            • Jason says:

              I’m right there with you re: trackers. It’s unfortunate that they exist, but the hopes of catching a candidate off-guard and turning video in a viral sensation are just too great for anything to change.

            • Blake says:

              My two cents are that following a candidate around all day everywhere he or she goes is excessive. However, I don’t care whether a speaking engagement is billed as a presentation to a private group to which the public is not invited: if a candidate is going to be airing views/making promises/etc. related to an election, then it is by definition public and fair game for recording and dissemination. That goes for Obama’s 2008 comments on guns & religion, Romney’s 2012 comments on the 47%, and anything else.

              I detest supposedly private speeches to fundraisers.

  4. saltycracker says:

    Tracker/media is getting our politicians better at guarding every word in some nebulous, innocuous statement. “We will just have to elect them to see what is in them” just got a tracker boost.

  5. SmyrnaSAHM says:

    This practice is unbelievably creepy – there’s no way to rationally explain stalking people with a video camera. Is this limited to public events, or is it happening, as the article states, “whenever he can,” regardless of the location or the context? Like, are these trackers following candidates to their kids’ swim meets? To the supermarket? To church? Creepy is nonpartisan, y’all, and this is CREE-PY. It’s just one more thing that will prevent rational, reasonable people from considering political candidacy.

    (And if this stalking is not limited to public events, what does it say about the people who take the time to watch this party-sanctioned voyeurism?)

    • Bill Dawers says:

      My questions echo yours. As I said in the post, I see nothing wrong with videotaping opponents’ public events, but just tracking someone as they go through their work day? Following a sitting legislator around the capitol to record hallway conversations?

      • Noway says:

        If they’ve got deep pockets, they just might follow him from home to work and everywhere else. From my experience, it’s limited to public events.

  6. Jon Lester says:

    The life of a tracker sure doesn’t look to me like any good way to live.

    I don’t get why Georgia liberals are actually feeling excited about the Carter campaign, because I think we all know he’ll have to run to the right of Roy Barnes to be competitive.

  7. Scarlett says:

    Trackers are only useful to “out” disingenuous politicians, which Jason Carter is not. He’s the same person in private as he is in public.

    The only thing Ben’s footage will be good for is B roll in a political documentary of Georgia’s next Governor.

  8. Doctor Strangelove says:

    I think the hilarity is more in the fact that his every move is being tracked. Trackers are common, certainly, but trackers that almost literally stalk candidates are quite rare.

  9. greencracker says:

    Does being a tracker involve following one’s target into public restrooms?

    Also, I didn’t know trackers existed. When I saw this kid at cap with Carter, I thought he was with Carter’s team, grabbing some kind of candid-ish footage for future use. Shows what I know.

    • Doug Deal says:

      So you never wonder how the infamous “Makaka” incident that sunk Senator Allen in VA happened. Or Jason Carter’s own hand in the Romney’s 43% statement. Amazing how one sided the reality of Democrats can be.

      Jason Carter himself participated in this exercise and it isn’t until he his hit by it that it is suddenly beyond the pale. I dislike the mentality behind trackers, to find your opponent in one bad moment and paint their entire career under that brush, but it is the left that has the greater hand in this and to pretend this is the first you’ve heard of it is beyond absurd.

      Now we are all stuck with it.

      • benevolus says:

        As was said earlier, Allen was making a public statement. The question posed is whether stalking someone through the hallways or in their personal life is having gone too far.

        Also, what incident did Jason Carter participate in? What was his participation?

        • Noway says:

          Bush’s drunk driving record was almost enough to “sink” his campaign back in 2000. Again, whether it’s the guy with the camera or the green eye shade guy pouring through the docket books, the gold nugget for campaign destruction is out there.

      • Noway says:

        The trackers are like paparazzi trailing the stars. A career can be made if a photographer gets the less than flattering pic of a star or even better, if they’re doing something scandalous. Same principal. You will instantly become an opposition research legend if you get something that sinks a campaign. Mitt’s “47%” comment became worth its’ weight in campaign gold. Mining the public records for liens, divorce decrees offer a similar shot at stardom.

  10. Noway says:

    And let’s not forget “dumpster diving.” Once that plastic trash can reaches the “curtilage” it’s fair game. Happens all the time.

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