Politics & Government
4:01 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Michigan's campaign for governor gets weird as Republicans deploy spyglasses

From the video put together by Mark Schauer's campaign. The alleged "spy cam" on a Republican staffer.
Credit Mark Schauer / YouTube

I guess we should expect it in our politics these days.

Recording technology is getting smaller and some recordings have been seen as game changers.

When David Corn of Mother Jones released Mitt Romney's "47% video," the predictions came in:

"You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by David Corn at Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney's campaign for president."

That video tape was provided to a reporter by a source who wanted to remain anonymous and who claimed to have no ties to another political campaign (his identity was later revealed).

It appears the people snooping in the campaign for Michigan's next governor are looking for that same political-game-changing magic. So far, we know of three such incidents.

Chad Livengood of the Detroit News reports the disk containing the recording from the spyglasses was found "on the floor of the Pipefitters Local 636 union hall in Farmington Hills."

Naturally, the opposition is going to make hay with this secret recording. You can watch it here:

In Livengood's piece today, the communications director of the Michigan Republican Party, Darren Littell, acknowledged that they sent the two young staffers to the Schauer fundraising event, and that they've done it before:

Littell acknowledged this isn’t the first time the GOP has deployed a tracker wearing glasses with a hidden camera.

“We’ve been using them to track Democrats,” Littell said.

The Michigan Democratic Party does not use hidden cameras to track Republican candidates, spokesman Joshua Pugh said.

Secret recordings are an effort to catch candidates with their hair down, and opponents hope they catch them on a bad hair day.

Littell said spying on each other's campaigns is just part of politics, "Republicans do it; Democrats do it," he told the News. The spyglasses tactic is just a "newer approach," he said.

But some political analysts find the tactics strange, especially for a party whose candidate is ahead in the polls.

Michigan Radio's It's Just Politics co-host Zoe Clark says these types of tactics just play into the cynicism most people feel when it comes to politics.

"You've got to be careful," Clark says. "Of course, you want to get that video, that one piece of incriminating evidence of your opponent... but, you get caught, and it just feeds into the feeling that American politics has just gone to the dogs."

Secret recordings are likely going to continue to have their appeal. Trust in our political system continues to slide, and campaigns and candidates are perfecting the words they choose to say in public.

All that contributes to a desire to know the "real person" behind the campaign.

Secret recordings are an effort to catch candidates with their hair down, and opponents hope they catch them on a bad hair day.

And sometimes, you just don't need any secret recording to be a little frightened:

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