No Place for Amateurs: How Political Consultants Are Reshaping American Democracy

By Dennis W. Johnson | Go to book overview
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4

Political Research: Digging Up the Dirt

There’s not a garbage pail I won’t get in, not an angle I won’t aim a hidden camera…. I take cases from Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals. It’s all information.

—Larry Preston Williams, private detective

Larry Preston Williams is unusual in a couple of respects: he candidly admits that he seeks out dirt on political candidates and that he will work for anyone. Most professional researchers work in the shadows, preferring the anonymity of probing sensitive online databases, masking the true intent of their activities, and hiding their employment through subcontractor arrangements with law firms or political parties. Many professional researchers reject the unsavory practice of “dumpster diving”—ferreting through garbage cans behind campaign headquarters or candidates’ homes—and some refuse to go after ex-spouses or divorce records or to seek out illegally obtained (but relatively easy to find) medical or financial records. Most researchers will work for one party only, unlike Williams, who sends every statewide candidate in Louisiana an

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No Place for Amateurs: How Political Consultants Are Reshaping American Democracy
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