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September 18, 2012

MoJo’s Secret Mitt Videos: Pushing Fundraising Transparency in the Age of “Macaca Meets Micro Cam”

Romney Secret Video 2

Romney Secret Video 1

If you’ve been a long-standing reader, you know I’m continually on the lookout for images, purloined or otherwise, from these regular campaign shakedowns. (The photo below, from a post I did during the 2010 mid-terms, was taken by a Roll Call photog capturing Speaker Boehner in donor collection mode at a backyard soiree for a Pennsylvania congressman.)

Boehner fundraiser

And then, the black-and-white image by Stephen Crowley is part of a post I did in February venting about the same subject in which he also describes (in words) the scene a $35,800 dinner last February with Obama and celebs including George Clooney. (Shameless plug: Stephen will be part of our panel at the first live BagNewsSalon at Columbia J-School on October 10th. If you’re in the area, please come.)

My problem with secret videos from private fat cat political fundraisers is that they are private in the first place — the general inability for “we the people” to get a look at who’s buying the influence, or to even get a peek at what’s on the menu, being a constant source of frustration when your obsession in life is sifting political imagery. With everyone (even traditional media hands) becoming their own brands now, however, and with the media and the candidates viewing social platforms and the proliferation of more informal, even candid imagery as advantageous, it feels like the window on the process might be starting to open a few more cracks.

By way of the traveling press corps on Instagram, for instance, we’re now seeing right up to the door of these “closed press” fundraisers. Or, more specifically, what we’re seeing are images from the doors, or a garage, or an upstairs bedroom.

Melina Mara press pool Romney
via @melinamara – Protective Pool press guest cottage hold at a Mitt Romney fundraising event in Long Island NY – Secret Service and his trusted steed.

Dharapak automobile stable Romney fundraising
via @charlesdharapak – Romney press pool holding in “automobile stable” during closed campaign fundraising event on Long Island.

Dharapak fundraiser tongs
via @charlesdharapak – No I didn’t use the tongs. Romney pool press hold as he attended a private fundraiser. #aponthetrail. Mentor Ohio.

As alluded above, this might not be pay dirt, but in relative terms, in the age of ¬†”macaca meets micro cam,” I’m hopeful. I’m¬†hopeful that more and more (via donor reporters with lapel lenses and, eventually, maybe even faux insect drones) we’re going — SuperPACS and SuperSuperPACS, notwithstanding — to really get inside.

Romney Secret Video 2 servants

So, as far as yesterday and the MoJo tapes are concerned, I’ll take what I can get. And if that’s some fuzzy impressions from the $50k per head Romney (“I Coulda Been a Mexican”) monologue for 150 people at the Boca home of sex partier and private equity manager Marc Leder last May 17th, then so be it. Because I’m just excited to catch a glimpse of the upper crust candidate — yes, the one who serves finger sandwiches to the press on his campaign plane — letting his guard down around the brimming decanters and the servants in white gloves.

(screen grabs: MotherJones video; Instagram; Boehner photo:Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images. caption: AUGUST 13, 2010. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, waits to speak at a fundraiser for Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., in Easton, Pa. Dent is being challenged for the PA-15 seat by democrat John Callahan.)

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