A warning to anyone who holds an event for a major candidate for Florida governor: There will be trackers, the video camera-wielding politico-paparazzi on the lookout for gaffes or drama.
And they're always recording.
The Miami-Dade Justice Association's president, attorney Andrew Moss, learned that the hard way Wednesday when he smacked the smartphone camera out of the hand of a Republican tracker stalking Democrat Charlie Crist, who was speaking to his fellow trial lawyers at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove.
The Republican Party of Florida posted the video hours later on YouTube.
Moss said the tracker, whom he identified as Francisco Chamorro, lied about being an attorney. Chamorro couldn't be reached. He arrived at the event's sign-in desk with a Rick Scott campaign-affiliated attorney, who is not a member of the group. Moss told both to leave before Crist spoke.
“So, why are you asking me to leave?” the tracker asks on the video.
Moss: "Because it’s a members-only group and you’re not a member."
Tracker: "Was there anybody who told you that…"
Moss: "Are you recording me?"
At that point, Moss hit the camera-phone out of his hand and the video stops.
Moss, who said he was acting independently of Crist, acknowledged he shouldn’t have hit the tracker’s smartphone – even though, he says, the man was trying to secretly record him.
“I am offended that a paid employee of the Scott campaign lied to our organization about being a lawyer, and then tries to videotape me without my consent," Moss said by email. "There's a reason I acted the way I did. I was wrong, but their lies are infinitely worse."
The Scott campaign, which noted that the event was open to the news media and other guests, said in a statement that “if asked, trackers are always up front about who they are and who they work for.”
The Crist campaign said it was unaware of Moss's run-in with the tracker.
Trackers follow Scott, too. On Tuesday, during a Miami event, a citizen-activist who wouldn't give his name shouted questions to the governor about cli¬mate change. A Scott campaign staffer tried to keep him away from the governor, but never touched his equipment. American Bridge, a nationwide Democratic group that tracks GOP candidates, shot video of Scott's press gaggle as well.