OK, they apparently do this all the time — but that doesn't mean it isn't a wee bit slimy.
Mahlon Mitchell, one of the eight Democrats running in Tuesday's primary for the spot to take on Scott Walker in November, wondered what a guy with a video camera was doing following him around like a puppy dog while he was on the campaign trail the other day.
So he confronts the guy, asking him who he works for and how much he's getting paid. Not as much as you make as a firefighter, the guy answers and heads for his car. Mitchell turns a camera on him and videotapes him taking off.
Turns out the guy is a consultant to none other than our governor, Scott Walker.
In other words, he was acting as a troll, photographing Mitchell's every move in hopes that the candidate would do or say something that might make good fodder for a campaign ad — most likely taken out of context.
Candidates from both political parties have resorted to this kind of skulduggery in recent years, but it was a bit surprising that Walker's people were targeting one of eight Democrats in Tuesday's primary unless, of course, they've trolled them all and are saving up the videos for whoever emerges as Walker's opponent following the primary.
Let's be honest. Walker has always walked a fine line when it comes to campaigning, never missing an opportunity to gain an edge even if it borders on being illegal.
His history on the campaign trail goes way back to when he was a student at Marquette University running for student government president. Under the rules, neither he nor his opponent were to campaign until after registration week, which started Feb. 3. Walker, however, was caught campaigning 10 days before and was chastised for violating the rules. Later in that campaign, which he lost, he and his supporters were suspected of trashing copies of the student paper, the Marquette Tribune, which had endorsed his opponent.
That was small potatoes compared to what came later. After he was elected Milwaukee County executive, Walker's office came under scrutiny by the Milwaukee County district attorney. Six of his political associates, including three key staff members in the exec's office, wound up being convicted of crimes ranging from violating laws forbidding political campaigning while on the government's dime to stealing thousands of dollars from a fund for families of soldiers who had been wounded or killed.
The shady campaigning didn't stop there, though. A John Doe investigation into his campaigns for governor, especially the 2012 recall campaign, revealed a stream of questionable campaign funding, including forbidden coordination with supposedly independent groups.
In all those cases, Walker escaped any blame himself. The DA couldn't prove that Walker knew his staff was campaigning for him while working for the taxpayers in the county exec's office. In the case of the John Doe, the Republican-controlled Legislature simply changed the campaign finance laws and the Walker-friendly state Supreme Court ordered an end to the probe.
So here we are in 2018. Any bets on what tricks are in store for his campaign?
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.
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