Ky. Senate race highlights YouTube era of politics

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by Rachel Nix

WHAS11.com

Posted on October 14, 2009 at 11:47 AM

(WHAS11) - The Daniel Mongiardo U.S. Senate campaign says it's narrowing down the list of possible suspects responsible for posting audio clips of Mongiardo criticizing Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.

While they don't deny its Mongiardo’s voice, there is also no question that the tapes have been edited to make Mongiardo sound as bad as possible.

His campaign says that it's an attempt to slow Mongiardo's momentum and divide the governor and lieutenant governor. 

Unlike traditional political attack ads, no one has signed their name on YouTube.  The Internet video posting website can entertain and educate.  Politicians have their own YouTube channels to talk directly to voters.

But, as Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has discovered, that can be a double edged sword.

Several anonymously posted YouTube clips depict a secretly taped Mongiardo criticizing Governor Steve Beshear. 

Campaign spokesman Kim Geveden says they are heavily edited and “a politically orchestrated smear campaign to try and damage Daniel's U.S. Senate campaign.”

And Geveden revealed today that a professional analysis of the tapes is beginning to narrow down who is responsible, someone who has the resources to record the clips in different locations.

“We've had these tapes looked at by some professionals, and their analysis shows that these tapes are multiple segments, pieces of audiotape that have been collected in different locations,” 

Geveden told WHAS11’s Joe Arnold, “which suggests strongly that this is some tracking capacity, someone has gone to a great length and significant expense to travel around the state to record.”

Both the Jack Conway and Mongiardo Senate campaigns employ trackers to record what the opposing candidate says at public events. 

“If any parts or elements of these tapes can be, or are tied back to a campaign, then I believe yes it would be a clear violation of campaign finance laws and regulations,”  Geveden continued.

But Conway repeated today that his campaign is not involved in the YouTube attacks.

“I don't know the circumstances of how he was taped.  I don't know.  I don't know if it was someone within his campaign, outside his campaign, so I don't really want to comment on where it was.  It does bring into play where do you speak your mind?  Can you ever speak your mind?” Conway said.

But what if a Conway supporter is behind it?

“I would discourage them from doing that,”  Conway said, “I think the best way to support me is to support my campaign and what I'm running on.”

Conway's Fancy Farm “I’m one tough SOB” speech gave him his own 15 minutes of YouTube fame.  He says he's learned that anything he says can be posted on the Internet within minutes.  And he says the Dan Mongiardo tapes teach an important lesson for all politicians.

“I think the working assumption for a candidate has to be you're always on the record,”  Conway said, “You're always on the record when you're driving around with your staff.  You're always on the record when you're just talking to someone off the cuff at a picnic for example.   You're always on the record.”

When pressed on whether he repudiates the YouTube attacks on Mongiardo, Conway said that's an issue for Mongiardo and Beshear, and because Conway says he doesn't know the circumstances of how Mongiardo was taped, he would rather reserve comment.

Meanwhile, Mongiardo's campaign announced their best fundraising totals yet, $513,000 in the third quarter. 

Conway says his totals are "healthy" but won't release a number until Thursday.

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