AD Main Menu

Begich campaign, Republican group spar over operative's ejection from Fairbanks event

Nathaniel Herz

A Republican group is complaining that one of its staff members was kicked out of a public campaign event held in Fairbanks on Saturday by Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

The operative, Tyler Slater -- a “tracker” for Washington D.C. based America Rising who is paid to tape and monitor Begich’s events — is shown on a video he recorded as being asked to leave the event, which the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner described as a “town hall on diversity.”

“Causing a disturbance, making other people nervous -- not a situation we want here,” Grier Hopkins, a Begich campaign staff member, tells Slater.

A spokesman for Begich, Max Croes, wrote in an email: “When the same gentleman who followed Mark Begich with a camera through the Fort Richardson National Cemetery on Memorial Day acknowledged he was being paid to travel to Fairbanks by a Washington, D.C. attack group and tried to force his way into the event, he was asked to leave.”

Croes sent his own video that shows Slater, wearing a baseball hat, ignoring Croes’ request that Slater leave the event, which was held at a community center.

“We’re more than happy to stand in the lobby like this all day, if you’re interested in doing something else,” Croes tells Slater, as the two stand near the entrance.

“You mean, like, coming in here, for instance?” Slater says, as he walks around Croes, who follows and appears to step from side-to-side to stop Slater’s progress. “I love dancing,” Slater adds.

The incident is the most recent illustration of the growing role of trackers, who have been following Senate candidates from both parties in hopes of catching them making a gaffe.

Jeff Bechdel, America Rising’s communications director, said that Slater was “simply trying to record a public event of a public servant, and these guys are acting like they’ve got something to hide.”

Contact Nathaniel Herz at nherz@adn.com.