Tags: US | Politics | & | Private | Eyes

Politicians Use PIs to Unearth Their Own Skeletons

Thursday, 28 Oct 2010 07:17 AM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

ALBANY, N.Y.  — A questionable military service record. An immigrant housekeeper without a visa. A criminal charge from long ago. Sexual indiscretions.

Such private issues thought long buried are the currency of the secretive and growing world where campaigns hire private investigators. PIs dig up dirt on opponents and, increasingly, the candidates who've hired them.

"Were they really in the military? Did they actually serve in combat? well, maybe not," said Randy Torgerson, a PI and president of the United States Association of Professional Investigators based in Montana. "Some of the biggest things, as people move up the ladder, are sexual issues ... and then the embellishments."

The Swift Boat smear in 2004 on presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service, the hit this year that forced Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Connecticut, to explain and defend his Marine Corps service, and any number of "nannygates" and sex scandals are believed by their targets and supporters to be based on PI work.

Such revelations are some of the results of dogged searches into countless court and municipal records and probing interviews by PIs, usually well-connected former cops. The more races and closer they are, as in this year when states like New York have seen new levels of personal attacks, the more PIs get hired.

And although candidates know what they did, Torgerson said they also "want to know what the other people can find out. That's what it really boils down to."

Michael Corwin has seen his New Mexico-based private investigation business grow in the last four years, thanks in large part to political campaigns. He's done "self-investigations" and opposition investigations on dozens of statewide, state legislative and county candidates. He went from doing little on the political front a half-decade ago to turning away some business now.

Self-investigation by a candidate can fend off the "gotcha moment," said Corwin, once dubbed "the governor's PI" for being hired to vet New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's top hires and major contributors.

"It's a great idea because his campaign can talk to him about it and say, 'What was going on here?' and that way they can also be prepared," Corwin said.

In New York, one of the first priorities in the underdog campaign for governor by tea party Republican Carl Paladino was to hire a private investigator — to investigate Paladino.

It paid off. In September, a reporter called Paladino's spokesman, Michael Caputo, about a tip that a company the developer ran was hit with a felony a decade ago for failure to detect asbestos in a Syracuse bowling alley he was renovating.

Caputo immediately disseminated an e-mail video of Paladino produced long before explaining the case. The response included newspaper articles of the incident which quoted a federal prosecutor saying Paladino didn't have any criminal responsibility.

New York state elections records show private investigation firms were hired at least 21 times over the last four years by individual campaigns and county parties for more than $38,000 in fees. Three times more firms were hired this year than four years ago.

In those records, campaigns describe the work done by 11 private investigation firms. But PIs say the public record reveals only a fraction of the private business.

Most often campaigns hire private investigators through law firms. That allows the public campaign finance records to list only the law firm doing unspecified legal work or consulting, and extends a kind of client-attorney protection to the PI.

"Op research" has long been done by campaign workers collecting old news stories, voting records, civil suits and the like. Campaigns usually hire national political research firms, assign the duty to budding interns and eager college graduates, or in some cases hire a few political hands who have come to specialize in the work.

"In years with more contested seats, there will be more op research overall, though, and this is one of those years," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Gov. McAuliffe Isn't Talking, but in 2007 Said 'Shut Borders Down'

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 21:16 PM

I arrived at the lobby on the floor of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office at 7:55 a.m., intent on waiting until I ha . . .

Ted Cruz on 'True Blood': Vampire Vote Belongs to Democrats

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 20:51 PM

Sen. Ted Cruz took to social media Tuesday with his take on an HBO "True Blood" episode depicting a bloodbath at a ficti . . .

School's Diversity Policy and Prof's Disdain for It Cause Debate

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 20:13 PM

A new diversity policy at the University of Wisconsin in Madison – and an economics professor's open disdain for it – ar . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved