May 22, 2012

Cicilline Campaign Engaging in Video Intimidation?

Monique Chartier

Isn't this charming.

On May 12, I attended the grand opening of First District congressional candidate Bren-dan Doherty’s campaign office in East Providence. It was a well-attended event that inspired the crowd gathered to show support for Mr. Doherty and his positive message.

As the event ended, campaign supporters, volunteers and friends of the candidate filed out of the building and onto the street, where they were met by a young man with a video camera pointed toward the exit of the building. With the video camera mounted on a tripod approximately 15 to 20 feet from the doorway, and the cameraman leaning cross-armed against a telephone pole next to it, supporters of Mr. Doherty had little choice but to have their images captured as they left the event. After the last few attendees exited, the cameraman packed up his tripod and drove off in a car prominently displaying a “Cicilline for Congress” bumper sticker.

Since that day, I have been consumed with questions. For what purpose will those images be used? Who will be reviewing the videotape? Have I made someone’s “enemies list”? Will our respective businesses be blacklisted from participating in government contracts? Will U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D.-R.I.) now expand his tracking to supporters and their families? ...

Tara Pinsky Providence
The writer is chairwoman of the Providence Republican Committee.

(Thanks to the Providence Journal for printing this letter.)

Ms. Pinsky raises some excellent questions, especially the one about blacklisting businesses from gov't contracts. Oh, perhaps not so much on the federal level. But certainly on the state level. All the congressman or his staff have to do is quietly pass the word back to Rhode Island. Funnelling business to the "right" (not necessarily the best or the most competent or the most competitive) companies is second nature for the RI Democrat party which, of course, also controls the General Assembly and its budget.

Video-taping his opponent's supporters borders on thug behavior. How desperately does David Cicilline want to win re-election?

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I don't agree with this kind of speculation. There is nothing wrong with videotaping in public, which somebody should explain to the police since they have a history of arresting people for it by abusing "wiretapping" laws. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in running a public campaign for Congress. Justin has been publicly reprimanded for taking photos at committee hearings - is he guilty of "thug" behavior as well? Let's reserve that label for the NEA cyberstalking state representatives, threatening people in courthouses, and the like. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and viderecording can bring in a lot of sunlight.

Posted by: Dan at May 22, 2012 1:13 PM

Can you give a reason why an opposing candidate would want video of the attendees of a partisan event other than for intimidation? Taking photos at a hearing is hardly the same being a public event attended by representatives from all sides of the issue.

Posted by: Max D at May 22, 2012 1:40 PM

I don't know what their reasons are for videotaping, but just because I don't know their reasons doesn't mean that the reasons are invidious.

I understand the partisan, campaign motivation for paiting this as some sinister act of intimitation, but this blog should be above that.

Posted by: Dan at May 22, 2012 1:52 PM

What nonsense. And Pinsky comes off as paranoid, maybe even delusional. Can't help her candidate imho so keep up the good work, Tara.

h/t Dan for being the voice of reason on this one.

Posted by: Russ at May 22, 2012 2:14 PM

I agree that it's legal to film people and activities in a public place, just as it would be legal for the police to install surveillance cameras on public streets. But something can be perfectly legal and yet be a little creepy simultaneously.

It is neither paranoid nor delusional to speculate about the purpose for recording the faces of people exiting the Doherty campaign event. While the cameraman's motives might be entirely innocent, and possibly not even related to the Cicilline campaign despite the presence of the bumper sticker on his car, it is not unreasonable to entertain the possibility that there was some malicious motive involved. It's not as if politicians and their supporters have never resorted to underhanded tactics in their quest to gain or hold power.

The prudent course is to be alert for any other suspicious activity to see if a pattern develops. If there are no similar incidents in the future, this story will die. If Doherty supporters are regularly surveilled or suffer unexplained adverse consequences, then speculation will naturally grow.

Posted by: David P at May 22, 2012 2:47 PM

This blog should be above that? Above what? Pointing out the obvious? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's a big deal but you're not only seeing it through rose colored glasses, the glasses belong to Russ.

Posted by: Max D at May 22, 2012 3:08 PM

If you work for a political campaign or attend campaign events in support of a candiate, you should understand that they often become heated, even vicious, and any missteps may be used against your candidate. I wouldn't assume that it's intimidation. They could be conducting recon on the other side or getting some stock footage for an attack ad or something of that nature.

Posted by: Dan at May 22, 2012 3:33 PM

Without knowing more information, one shouldn't jump to any conclusions.

The only real evidence presented is that the person had a “Cicilline for Congress” bumper sticker. And, based on that, Pinsky assumes the person is putting her and others on an enemies list?

That seems to be pure speculation, doesn't it?

Posted by: Bill at May 22, 2012 3:45 PM

I'll give you that Dan. It could be for any of those reasons and/or intimidation. None of which passes the smell test but if you want to play with the big boys put your big boy pants on or stay in the sandbox.

Posted by: Max D at May 22, 2012 3:58 PM

"It is neither paranoid nor delusional to speculate about the purpose..."

This blog collects my e-mail address and we can assume my IP address. Why?

Are they planning to target my home or employer? Are they going to contact my ISP? What connection does it have to Ocean State Current or WPRO who help fund this nefarious scheme? Could they be passing this info to conservative businesses or elected officials as part of a black list, the genesis of a new Red scare, which of course is second nature to these right wing types? Are they planning a smear campaign against liberals? This clearly borders on thug behavior!

Posted by: Russ at May 22, 2012 4:17 PM

"prominently displaying a "Cicilline for Congress" bumper sticker"

note: it would be virtually impossible for a reight-wing-nut trouble maker to obtain one of these stickers ?

McCarthyism at its worst...well done RI GOP

Posted by: Sammy in Arizona at May 22, 2012 5:28 PM

The 2006 Virginia senate race between Sen. George Allen and James Webb brought to light the use of videotaping opponents on the campaign trail by campaigns and the potential for this to generate effective negative advertising. In this case, Allen's "macaca" moment was picked up by the press and probably sunk his reelection bid. So it was demonstrated to all campaigns everywhere- videotaping your opponent's events can be very good for you. Only a novice to campaigning at this point would not know this.

Posted by: David S at May 22, 2012 5:36 PM

Cicilline is paranoid. He knows he's all done and wants to see if any of his supporter are jumping ship on him.

Posted by: Kathy at May 22, 2012 8:18 PM

This is Rhode Island. Nothing is over. Cicillini will most likely win once he buys off all the progressives and unions. They're already lining up behind him on RIFuture.

Posted by: Dan at May 22, 2012 9:07 PM

We can understand why the former Governor does not what to be found but what does the chairwoman of the Providence Republican Committee have to hide?

DavidS has the truth of it. Imagine what some of what Virginia voters heard that went unrecorded.

Posted by: Phil at May 22, 2012 9:34 PM

"He knows he's all done and wants to see if any of his supporter are jumping ship on him."

Heh. They'll do it quietly, in the voting booth, not quite so overtly as this.

Posted by: Monique at May 22, 2012 10:03 PM

I agree with Dan here. Much ado about nothing. Anyone with a brain should ignore these types of games because either side could easily be the real culprit.

Posted by: Rich at May 22, 2012 11:32 PM

It's a public street. If you don't want the people taped, for whatever reason, have someone stand in front of the camera...

Posted by: Mike678 at May 23, 2012 8:48 AM

Videotaping is legal in this instance-who really cares what some left wing A-holes have on their cameras?I wonder how Little Chichi would react to being taped in the "backroom"of one of the sewers he freqients?Just sayin'.This post brought out the left wing crew like roaches reacting to Baygon.

Posted by: joe bernstein at May 24, 2012 8:24 PM
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