The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee appears to be engaging in some late-in-the-game research. The committee has been sending blanket Freedom of Information Act requests to state agencies seeking correspondence regarding both Republican Linda McMahon and their Democratic nominee, Chris Murphy.
The national campaign arm of the Senate Democrats has sent FOIA requests to seemingly random state agencies asking for “any correspondence, including electronic, to your agency from or on behalf of Linda E. McMahon.”
The request asks for correspondence from “all possible dates” and asks that any smaller agencies it oversees be included in the search.
The Departments of Transportation, Insurance, Military, Revenue Services, Correction and even Children and Families all confirmed that they recently received the letters. Requests also went to the offices of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Attorney General George Jepsen.
It’s not clear what the committee is seeking, but it appears to be opposition research on the former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO, who according to a poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling, trails Murphy by six points.
However, agencies also have received requests from the committee seeking information regarding Murphy. Those letters ask that the search be limited to correspondence dating back to January 1999, Murphy’s first year in the General Assembly.
Most agencies have only recently received the letters, sent by a DSCC researcher in Washington, so it’s unclear whether the requests will garner any new information.
It’s likely that the widely cast net will turn up more information on Murphy than McMahon. Murphy served as a state lawmaker from 1999 to 2006, when he was elected to Congress. McMahon’s only government service was a brief stint on the state Board of Education.
Gary Kleeblatt, a spokesman for the Department of Children and Families, said that in responding to the requests his agency found no correspondence with McMahon and some routine emails to Murphy soliciting his support for programs dating back to his time in the state legislature.
The governor’s office said it’s difficult to quantify how much work and state resources will be used to accommodate a broad-blanket FOIA request. Each agency deals with the requests internally. They’re usually addressed by legal staff.
Although the state’s Freedom of Information Act is typically perceived as a research tool utilized by members of the news media, Andrew McDonald, Malloy’s chief legal counsel, said requests come in from a variety of sources including political organizations and lawyers looking for information to support litigation.
The DSCC requests come amid criticism from the McMahon campaign that the DSCC has “officially taken over” Murphy’s “failing” U.S. Senate campaign.
“It’s clear that Congressman Murphy’s D.C.-based rescue committee will do or say anything to destroy Linda McMahon, no matter how ridiculous it looks or sounds,” McMahon Campaign Manager Corry Bliss said in a response last week to a TV-spot funded by two Democratic PACs.
Murphy had to work hard to convince the DSCC to get involved in his campaign. The S.O.S. went out at the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina, and a week later the DSCC dropped $320,000 on television ads in Connecticut, shifting resources away from New Mexico, according to Politico. Then, last week, the committee brought in Eli Zupnick, a spokesman who arrived in Connecticut courtesy of Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Asked about the FOI requests, DSCC press secretary Shripal Shah declined to comment on the committee’s research methods. But he emailed a statement saying voters “deserve to know the truth about Linda McMahon.”
“Linda McMahon has spent millions lying to Connecticut voters about her record and peddling garbage about Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. The fact is that when she was head of the WWE, she made millions peddling sex and violence to children while at the same time firing workers and taking $10 million in tax credits for job creation,” Shah said.