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Government and Politics

How far is too far in tracking candidates' private lives?
Ohio Congressman Renacci says Democrats have crossed that line
This story is part of a special series.

Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci has been targeted by campaign trackers who have posted video of his house and businesses.
Courtesy of Chris Wallis
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Political campaigns have used trackers to record opposing candidates for years. But one Ohio congressman says people tracking him have gone too far.  And one from the opposite end of the political spectrum says he’s right. WKSU’S M.L. Schultze has more.

SCHULTZE on campaign tracking

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Videos of Congressman Jim Renacci’s Wadsworth home and businesses can be seen on a YouTube page called “O-H 16 Raw Footage”along with recordings of his campaign stops and appearances in the media.

Renacci’s Chief of Staff James Slepian says the congressman is used to trackers showing up at events, but showing up outside his house has no place in the campaign.

“The only word that comes to mind is creepy. It creates a bit of an alarm and a security concern when you have strangers outside of your home it’s obviously upsetting to the neighbors and now that his family’s aware that this is going on, it’s upsetting to them as well.”

DCCC response: 'Quit hiding'
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s website includes a link to the controversial videos. It’s statement in response to Renacci’s complaint  doesn’t exactly address the practice. Instead, it condemns House Republicans like Renacci who “have spent this entire Congress trying to hide that they’re protecting benefits for millionaires and perks for themselves instead of protecting the middle class.”

Not all Democrats think alike
But one Northeast Ohio Democrat differs with the committee.  Outgoing Cleveland Congressman Dennis Kucinich also disagrees with Jim Renacci on everything from healthcare to the stimulus. But in his statement, Kucinich says he’s written to the chairs of both the Democratic and Republican national committees to protest the tapings.

He says, “I hope we can all agree that no candidate should have to give up the right to his or her safety at home or the safety of family.”

And finally, there’s a statement from Betty Sutton, the Democratic incumbent whose district has been merged with Renacci’s and who’s running against him in the fall. She says she hopes trackers will respect the personal privacy of Renacci and other candidates so the focus can remain on the issues.


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