By: Brian Sikma
Opposition research is the grist of stark contrasts, fine tuned messages, and yes, even negative campaign tactics. And usually it is a closely guarded secret. An opponents record matters in a race, and a good campaign will accumulate as much information as possible about an opponent and strategically time the release of that information to maximize their position and weaken their opponent. The Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee has made opposition research an increasingly central part of its role in Democrat congressional campaigns nationwide.
Less than two months after the DCCC gave Roll Call exclusive access to some of its opposition research meetings but prohibited the paper from mentioning the names of targeted Republicans, Media Trackers obtained 35 of the projected total of 75 opposition research notebooks. The digital tomes, ranging from a few dozen to hundreds of pages in length, are a treasure trove of talking points and attacks that the public can expect Democrats and their allies to level at Republican candidates ahead of November.
Several media outlets have noted that the DCCC and its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, have begun to quietly publish bits and pieces of key opposition research finds in an attempt to aid independent expenditure groups in their effort to run advertising campaigns in support of candidates. Federal law, a cobbled together mishmash of regulations and statutes from the 1970s until now, prohibits campaigns and party committees from coordinating tactics and strategy with independent outside groups. If information from a campaign or committee is made public, then – and only then – may independent groups use the information without running afoul of the law.
Headed into the 2012 goal with their eye on the prize of recapturing the majority in the House of Representatives, the DCCC outlined a three-part strategy for their efforts. First, they will work to raise money for television and grassroots organizing projects; second, they will organize the grassroots base and develop an energetic ground-game to drive voter turnout; and third, they will develop and distribute to candidates 75 opposition research notebooks that cover every aspect of their opponent’s personal, professional and civic life.
Release of the DCCC opposition manuals has been done without fanfare as they have been posted and updated at various times on the committee’s website. The links to them have for the most part been buried at the bottom of webpages several layers removed from the homepage.
Media Trackers discovered some weeks ago that 35 of the manuals were available through a backdoor on the DCCC’s website server. A simple Google search combining search terms involving the DCCC, opposition research, and the names of targeted Republican congressional candidates turned up oppo book after oppo book.
None of the information found in the books appears on the surface to be devastating to any single GOP candidacy. A list of the opposition books discovered weeks ago is below. But used carefully and the information could draw political blood as the election season intensifies.
DCCC Oppo Books were found via Google and the back-end of the DCCC’s webserver for:
Jeff Denham, CA-10 DCCC2012-JeffDenhamCA-10ResearchBook
Abel Maldonado CA-24 DCCC2012AbelMaldonadoCA-ResearchBook
Allen West FL-22 DCCC2012AllenWestFLResearchBook
Ann Marie Buerkle NY-24 DCCC2012AnnMarieBuerkleNY24-ResearchBook
Bill Johnson OH-6 DCCC2012BillJohnsonOH06-ResearchBook
Bobby Schilling IL-17 DCCC2012BobbySchillingIL-17ResearchBook
Brian Bilbray CA-52 DCCC2012BrianBilbrayCA52-ResearchBook
Jesse Kelly AZ-8 DCCC2012JesseKellyAZ08-ResearchBook
Jim Renacci OH-16 DCCC2012JimRenacciOH16-ResearchBook
Joe Heck NV-3 DCCC2012JoeHeckNV03-ResearchBook
Joe Walsh IL-8 DCCC2012JoeWalshIL-08ResearchBook
Judy Biggert IL-11 DCCC2012JudyBiggertIL11-ResearchBook
Keith Rothfus PA-12 DCCC2012KeithRothfusPA-12Research
Mike Coffman CO-6 DCCC2012MikeCoffmanCO06-ResearchBook
Mike Fitzpatrick PA-8 DCCC2012MikeFitzpatrickPA08-ResearchBook
Bill Young FL-10 DCCC2012OppoBookBillYoung
Randy Altschuler NY-1 DCCC2012RandyAltschulerNY01ResearchBook
Reid Ribble WI-8 DCCC2012ReidRibbleWI-08ResearchBook
Sean Duffy WI-9 WI-07 Sean Duffy Book 2012 05.03 (DCCC) – FOR WEB
Dan Benishek MI-1 DCCC2012RepDanBenishekMI01-ResearchBook
Ricky Gill CA-9 DCCC2012RickyGillCA-09ResearchBook
Scott Tipton CO-3 DCCC2012ScottTiptonCO-03ResearchBook
Tom Latham IA-3 DCCC2012TomLathamIA03-ResearchBook
Brian Whelan CA-16 DCCC2012BrianWhelan-ResearchBook
Dan Lungren CA-7 DCCC2012DANLUNGRENCA-07-ResearchBook
Gary DeLong CA-47 DCCC2012GaryDeLongCA-ResearchBook
Janice Arnold-Jones NM-1 DCCC2012JaniceArnold-JonesNM-ResearchBook
John Tavaglione CA-41 DCCC2012JohnTavaglioneCA-41ResearchBook
Nan Hayworth NY-18 DCCC2012RepNanHayworthNY18-ResearchBook
Matt Doheny NY-21 DCCC2012MattDohenyNY-ResearchBook
Larry Buschon IN-8 DCCC2012OppoBookLarryBucshon
Andy Barr KY-6 DCCC2012AndyBarrKY06-ResearchBook
Tim Wilkes, David Rouzer, Illario Pantano NC-7 DCCC2012NC-07ResearchBook
NC-11 (All GOP candidates) DCCC2012-NC11-ResearchBook
NC-8 (All GOP candidates) DCCC2012OppoBookNC08