Is all fair in political warfare?
The Detroit News reports Schauer’s campaign alleges the political espionage has occurred three times this year, most recently at a June 22 fundraiser at private home in Bloomfield Hills, where one of two state party staffers who showed up with high-tech video equipment mounted in her eyeglass frames.
Democrats found a memory disk with the raw footage of the private fundraiser on the floor at a Farmington Hills union hall after an Oakland County Democratic Party meeting earlier this month.
Schauer spokesman Zack Pohl called spying “Nixonian dirty tricks,” and said the two GOP staffers who were dispatched to the fundraiser – Natalie Collins and Kyle Anderson – should “be fired immediately.”
Michigan Republican Party spokesman Darren Littell said the use of hidden cameras wasn’t an ethical breach.
The staffers did nothing wrong, he said.
“Republicans do it; Democrats do it,” Littell told The Detroit News. “People use different ways to get the footage. ... This is a newer approach.”
Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Joshua Pugh told The Detroit News it’s not using high-tech devices to track Republican opponents.
Do you think it’s a breach of ethics for one campaign to secretly videotape a rival’s private fundraisers? Tell us in the comments, and tell us who you support in Michigan’s gubernatorial race by voting in our poll.
Oakland County Democratic Party chairman Frank Houston said the GOP crossed an important line when it sent spies to a private fundraiser, but anything goes at public events.
“What’s new about this is they’re acting like they’re in ‘Mission Impossible’ or James Bond or something and trying to do it on the fly,” Houston told the newspaper. “That’s the line that seems to be getting crossed here.”
Houston said Collins, a regional communications director for the Michigan GOP, and Anderson attended an Oakland County Democratic Party meeting two weeks after the Bloomfield Hills fundraiser.
The Detroit News reported last month Snyder fired a campaign intern who attempted to volunteer for Schauer’s campaign. In another incident in March, a one-time videographer for Snyder’s campaign impersonated a CNN reporter at a Schauer event.
“These Nixonian dirty tricks are beneath a sitting governor,” Pohl said.“To send people multiple times to Mark Schauer events lying about and misrepresenting who they are is shameful.”
Littell said Democrats aren’t above secret recordings. He told The Detroit News he caught them using smart phones to secretly record conversations Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference last September.
National Poll Shows Race Narrowing
The allegations of spying take on additional importance with the release of a new national NBC News/Marist poll that says the Michigan gubernatorial race is tightening. Snyder is still leading among 46 percent of likely voters, compared with 44 percent who support Schauer. Nine percent are undecided and 1 percent said they would support another candidate.
Bill Ballenger, founder of Inside Michigan Politics, told WILX-TV the winner may be determined by television advertising.
"We don't know what the reaction is going to be, and that's what a lot of the TV advertising is gonna be about in the next four months,” Ballenger said. “Each candidate is going to try to define himself, so he will look very good to the voters and either he, or people speaking on his behalf will try and make his opponent look bad."
A poll from Lansing-based Vanguard Public Affairs gave Snyder a wider lead over Schauer, 43 percent compared with 35 percent.