Democratic candidates in Virginia are forcibly stopping people from filming their closing message to voters ahead of November elections.
Staffers for Democratic congresswoman Elaine Luria (Va.) and other Democratic candidates say nobody is allowed to film their public campaign speeches. At one campaign event Luria held with Alex Askew (D.), a state lawmaker running for reelection, a political tracker had his camera blocked and was told by a staffer that "we don't want anyone to be filming," according to a video obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The man filming the September event, held in a public parking lot in Virginia Beach, was asked to leave the campaign rally.
At a campaign rally this past weekend Luria held for both Askew and Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, a political tracker was again blocked from filming the remarks. Video reviewed by the Free Beacon shows several staffers using clipboards to block the attendee's camera and even physically body checking the man to keep him from getting his camera on the event.
"They are running for public office, and you don't want them recorded?" the tracker asked. He was told those were the "rules" of the event.
Political trackers in recent years have become a fact of life on the campaign trail for Democratic and Republican candidates alike. Luria, however, who has called transparency critical, has gone to great lengths to block filming not only of campaign events but also of her taxpayer-funded constituent town hall events, according to a July report.
Footage taken at the campaign event last weekend shows several Democratic staffers jostling the cameraman, prompting him to ask them to stop touching him.
Luria's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Ayala and Askew, both on the ballot next Tuesday, also did not respond.
Tracker videos are employed by political groups on both sides of the aisle and have caught candidates in damaging and awkward moments.
In 2015, for example, Republican senator Rand Paul (Ky.) attracted negative attention when one of his staffers disgustingly licked the camera held by a tracker employed by liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century. At the top of the ticket this year in Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has lost his temper at trackers, even calling one "dangerous" because he wasn't wearing a mask outdoors.