It could be one of the biggest political intelligence coups of the 2012 battle to control Congress. Media Trackers, a conservative investigative watchdog group, discovered nearly three-dozen Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee opposition research notebooks – extensive secretive manuals outlining anything that could be used against a political opponent. Several news outlets have reported that some of the files have been quietly published on the DCCC’s website to facilitate their use by independent expenditure groups. On Thursday, however, Media Trackers published a dozen opposition research books that Democrats have so far managed to keep secret.
The twelve unpublished manuals range in size from a few dozen pages to hundreds of pages, depending on the personal, business and civic record of the Republican target. Incumbent members of Congress, like Florida’s Allen West and California’s Dan Lungren, have long files, whereas the individual Republican candidates in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District share a single book.
Democrats expanded the research division of the DCCC at the start of the 2012 cycle in an effort to create good political intelligence for their drive to capture 25 seats in the House and swing control of the majority away from Republicans. The D.C.-based newspaper Roll Call covered some of the meetings at which Democratic political staffers discussed ways to effectively gather information for the intel files they were building on Republicans. But the paper was granted access on the condition that they not publish the names of key targeted Republicans.
An apparent IT failure at the DCCC caused the books to become available via Google searches that combined targeted candidate’s names with opposition research search terms. They appeared in both Microsoft Word and PDF form (though Media Trackers had to convert the Word documents to PDF to upload them below) on a URL linked to a file sharing and storage service used by, among others, the DCCC.
The information found in the documents appears to be routine material one would expect to see. Biographical details, copies of land plots, voter registration records, tax information, business records, and press clippings and for incumbents voting records make up the bulk of the information. It is anticipated that individual Democratic campaigns and the DCCC itself will leverage the information into usable political fodder based on the dynamics of a particular race. Reading the books one can obtain a general outline of where Democrats are most likely to attack the Republican subject of the manual.
Although the sudden availability of the files may trump any timetable Democrats may have put together for distributing the information, their value to Republicans depends largely on the individual campaign’s own strategic response. The information – if damaging in any way – could be pre-empted or attacks based on the material could be headed off at a time when they are not quite so damaging as the final weeks of a campaign. As is often the case, the general dynamics of a race will impact the value of the early release almost as much as the substance of the intelligence itself.
The full list of still-secret opposition books discovered and released by Media Trackers is as follows:
Allen West FL-22 DCCC2012AllenWestFLResearchBook
Bill Young FL-10 DCCC2012OppoBookBillYoung
Nan Hayworth NY-18 DCCC2012RepNanHayworthNY18-ResearchBook
Matt Doheny NY-21 DCCC2012MattDohenyNY-ResearchBook
Larry Buschon IN-8 DCCC2012OppoBookLarryBucshon
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
Tim Wilkes, David Rouzer, Illario Pantano NC-7 DCCC2012NC-07ResearchBook
NC-11 (All GOP candidates) DCCC2012-NC11-ResearchBook
NC-8 (All GOP candidates) DCCC2012OppoBookNC08
This report by Brian Sikma of Media Trackers.