HuffPost Reports: When Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) formally kicked off his Senate campaign earlier this month, a scuffle in the back of the room drew attention away from him.
A Mandel aide was using his hands, body, head and hair to block a state Democratic Party employee from filming Mandel as he spoke and gladhanded around the room. The practice of taping opponents’ public comments, known as tracking, is common but some in Ohio said Mandel’s campaign is the “most aggressive” in blocking it.
David Cohen, who moderated the Mandel event at the Akron Press Club, told the Akron Beacon Journal that he noticed the situation and intervened, asking Mandel’s campaign staffer to stop.
“It is Akron Press Club policy and tradition that anybody who wants to record audio or video is free to do so,” Cohen said afterward. “We’re the Press Club, after all. We’re all about free speech and free press. We would protect [Mandel’s] rights just as strenuously.”
Mandel, 34, easily won the Republican Party primary March 6, and is now running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Andrew Zucker, spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party, told the Huffington Post that trackers are common in Ohio.
“Both parties use trackers and the goal is really to hold candidates on the other side accountable to what they say,” Zucker said. “We can fact-check them on what they say, and make sure they aren’t distorting what our candidates are saying.”
Zucker said his trackers have strict rules to identify themselves and to stay out of the way during Republican events.
But Mandel spokesman Travis Considine said that isn’t the case for all trackers.
“These trackers often try to distract and disrupt events like Josh’s speech to the Akron Press Club. We prevented that from happening and allowed the forum to proceed without interruption. Whether it’s Sherrod Brown’s staff, the Ohio Democratic Party, or anyone else trying to be disruptive, we will not allow them to push people around,” Considine said.