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Behind the creepiness

Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012

* As I’ve told you before, the DCCC has been posting opposition research and raw tracker videos online this cycle. The idea is to let other groups, PACs etc. who are running “independent expenditure” campaigns have access to stuff that could be useful in their TV ads.

That appears to be what’s behind this Illinois Review story, headlined “DCCC threatens Congressman Schilling with chilling drive-by videos”

A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) staffer is publishing creepy videos of the homes of Congressman Bobby Schilling, his family members, neighbors, and supporters (see videos below) …the Schillings are understandably concerned about their family and friends’ privacy and safety — especially after a YouTube stalker incident just a year ago.

Last October, Congressman Schilling was the victim of a cyber death threat. A YouTube that went viral offered $75,000 for the congressman’s assassination or for the rape or murder of a member of his family (see video HERE).

With those memories still fresh in the Schilling family’s minds, the congressman’s sister-in-law visited Schilling’s Democrat opponent’s office and asked them to take the videos down. Staffers at Cheri Bustos’ headquarters said they would look into it, but the videos are still viewable.

“Frankly I am sickened by someone creeping around my sister’s house and our neighborhood, videoing homes,” Christie Schilling, the congressman’s wife, told Illinois Review. “I don’t want to sound like an alarmist. I’m sorry, but I don’t like not feeling safe.”

The videos of the homes have since been taken offline. But they were for houses that also appeared in the DCCC’s opposition research book.

For instance, Schilling owned a house on Ponderosa Drive in Colona that, according to the OR book, had some tax liens on it. A house in Silvis was bought and sold quickly, indicating it was flipped. A house in Geneseo was bought and sold within five years.

* Why is this important at all? Well, according to the OR book, Schilling earned no income from his now-legendary pizza restaurant in 2009 and earned just $1,750 in 2010. So, the idea is, apparently, to encourage somebody else to tell voters that Schilling ain’t much of a pizza guy. Instead, he’s… I dunno… something else.

Whatever. I suppose this is somewhat relevant because the Republican Party is making a big deal out of Democratic congressional candidate Brad Schneider’s lack of income from his consulting business.

But I’ll bet the DCCC doesn’t post video of Schilling’s house ever again. And that’s a good thing.

Sheesh, people. Take it easy out there.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


24 Comments
  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 2:26 pm:

    I’m not really sure what the safety issue is.

    Every candidate’s home address is available pretty easily from the State Board of Election’s website.

    I guess video of other homes might be “creepy,” but its not like someone couldn’t find them with Google maps.


  2. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 2:31 pm:

    YDD, it’s one thing to say ‘XYZ’ lives here, it’s another to stop by and start filming and making that available.


  3. - Cassiopeia - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    Extreme partisanship breeds this sort of “anything goes” vilifications and both sides are guilty of going too far.


  4. - Springfield Dan - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 2:43 pm:

    If these clown only put this much time & effort into discussing importnat issues relevant to why we should vote for them and once elected did their frickin job government might just not be so fouled up!!!


  5. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 2:43 pm:

    If there was true security concerns can someone explain why PizzaBobby doing TV?
    Hmmm
    BTW the tie between the real estate churning and income is too suggest to some ( perhaps not Capt Fax who could have a lack of cash biz experience)that PizzaBoy may be getting an itsy bitsy more from the pies than he reports
    Yikes
    Fire,Aim,Ready
    PS Foggy memory recalls our hero Joe Novak using pictures of Marty Russo manse and Congressman Lipinski cottage to toast Russo
    Then of course PizzaBoy is making a big deal out of a road to country club that no one belongs to.


  6. - Shore - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 2:47 pm:

    I want to be careful here, but democrats have spent a lot of time the last 24 months talking about what happened to gabby giffords and safety issues concerning public officials and this seems somewhat hypocritical. Trackers are legit-when Jack Ryan was briefly a general election candidate republicans staunchly defended the staffer they had working for him doing tracking, as are candidates homes, but you don’t want something backfiring this late in the game and this can.


  7. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 3:02 pm:

    @OneMan -

    Tens of millions of Americans’ homes are available on Google maps through street view. If it’s an invasion of privacy, someone needs to tell Google.

    I think we’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.


  8. - Lil Enchilada - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 3:08 pm:

    After eating Bobby pizza one time I can understand why he only made $1750 in 2010.

    From what I understand there are numerous Schilling family members employed there. These aren’t single kids living in their childhood bedrooms. These “employees” are supporting families from this restaurant. I don’t know how it’s being done; I drive by there every night about dinner time and never see more than 3 or 4 cars there at any time.


  9. - Lil Enchilada - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 3:09 pm:

    Plus I forgot to mention that if I want to visit with Cheri Bustos, all I have to do is follow that map on the county club commercial every night. X marks the spot.


  10. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 3:16 pm:

    I’m with YDD on this one. I include property photos in all my research now, high res when possible. It’s a natural fit for mail if there’s a tax screwup, the house is particularly expensive for its area, etc. Video is the same.

    If you don’t like exposure don’t run for office.


  11. - NW Illinois - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 3:55 pm:

    Agree with Rich Miller … it’s time to back off, folks, and I’m in the Quad Cities. These hyper active national political staffers are going too far on both sides of the aisle.


  12. - hisgirlfriday - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 4:12 pm:

    I actually was with the crowd thinking this was really awful of the DCCC to do… until Lil Enchalada pointed out the Schilling folks have already run ads featuring Cheri’s home location for their lying country club commercial.

    But seeing the things that are coming out of this race I have to wonder… is this thing getting decided on actual policy issues at all? Still wondering why “Bainport” hasn’t been a bigger issue in this district.

    And while I’m already on a tangent, any chance that Will County Wal-Mart labor action from earlier this week that brought out the riot police will get any attention on the blog? Supposedly a Will County board member was one of the arrestees and the CTU was also involved.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/walmart-workers-strike-for-safe-warehouse-conditio

    http://www.thenation.com/blog/170274/riot-police-arrest-peaceful-protesters-rally-striking-walmart-workers#

    Apologies for the threadjack.


  13. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 4:14 pm:

    Also, as I’ve said before: the NRCC is doing the exact same thing with their research and tracking, including for Cheri Bustos: http://www.democratfacts.org/index.php/states-a-m/illinois/cheri-bustos/videos


  14. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 4:15 pm:

    Aren’t there enough real issues and problems for the candidates and their partisans to concern themselves with rather than this kind of crap? This stuff is beyond creepy.


  15. - Kerfuffle - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 4:18 pm:

    Will Caskey - “If you don’t like exposure don’t run for office.” . . . . and we wonder why there is a dearth of good candidates willing to run for office.


  16. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 4:25 pm:

    Kerfuffle, no, it’s not creepy. It’s campaigning. This has been happening for years, you just didn’t see it. Public research lets IEs and campaigns coordinate; it also incidentally lets voters see the underlying facts behind the paid persuasion and judge for themselves.

    Again, elected officials are more than happy to jam every inch of their lives and families out in front of cameras to get themselves votes. This is the flipside of that, and it’s completely transparent to boot. This is improving elections by circulating additional data.


  17. - too obvious - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 4:50 pm:

    Chilling? Really? Dial the drama down about 10 notches IR. Sheesh.

    This is the problem in a one party state with no presidential campaign. People with too much time on their hands.


  18. - David Ormsby - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 5:05 pm:

    –Chilling? Really? Dial the drama down about 10 notches IR. Sheesh.People with too much time on their hands.–

    Agreed.


  19. - Skeptic Tank - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 5:57 pm:

    Will Caskey: “I include property photos in all my research now, high res when possible”

    1) When filming an opposing candidate’s home, do you consider the timing of the visit so as to minimize the chance that your cameras show up when the candidate’s 14 year old daughter is home alone?

    2) If the street number is visible in the shot, do you blur it out or leave it in the shot?


  20. - jo jo - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 6:15 pm:

    Creepy is Schilling with his body guards hovering close by because he’s so afraid. Oohhhhhhooooooooo.


  21. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 6:30 pm:

    @Caskey -

    All I see is the Schilling campaign offering a lame excuse to remind folks that he was threatened over the internet..

    @Skeptic Tank -

    1) If at all possible, you don’t want ANY people in the shot. You want voters to focus on the big, expensive house that the Congressman lives in, and not be distracted by people.

    2) I recommend against any “doctoring” of photos. A Congressman’s street address is public information, available from the Board of Elections. So, too, are donors’ home addresses. “Blurring” the house number would imply there’s something wrong with taking a picture of the Congressman’s house. And there isn’t.


  22. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 7:16 pm:

    Exactly so, YDD. Most of the time I get the photos off the local assessor or Google Maps anyway.


  23. - Oneman - Wednesday, Oct 3, 12 @ 9:06 pm:

    == If you don’t like exposure don’t run for office. ==

    I think stuff like this (again video on youtube) and the full metal probe into people’s lives is turning people off from running for stuff.


  24. - Bill Baar - Thursday, Oct 4, 12 @ 9:53 am:

    I took a picture back in 2010 of Bill Foster staffers tacking down 30 or 40 signs they had placed at the entrance to St Charles’s HS just before a League of Women Voters debate. The Police had told them to take them down and they did, and took a picture of them at work. The Foster person in charge went ballistic over it, and while I felt perfectly within my rights to take that pic, I never used it. There’s a fine line here but I’ve watched these trackers at work in events. They’re literally tripping people up. This pictures of houses online thing is too much. Hard to set guidelines here, but you know it when you’ve crossed them.


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