POLITICS
03/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dorothy McAulliffe Taped By Opposition, Foul Play Denied

A report came out late Tuesday evening that one of Terry McAuliffe's primary challengers in the race for Virginia governor had assigned a tracker to follow McAuliffe's wife. If true, it could be seen as a breach of the line separating politics from personal matters.

But an aide to the opposing candidate, Virginia House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian Moran, says it was nothing more than a bizarre, coincidental, and one-time incident, hardly the nefarious politicking that has been portrayed.

Dorothy McAuliffe, wife of the former DNC Chair and confidante to the Clintons, was taped by the Moran campaign while giving a speech at the Stafford Democratic Committee this past week. But aides to Moran say it wasn't meant to be. The videographer had gone to the event to tape a Moran campaign official, Steve Jarding, who ran Mark Warner's run for the governor in 2001. McAuliffe's wife took to the stage afterward and the film kept on rolling. "We didn't turn the camera off," an aide said, "but it was coincidental. We don't have a camera tracking her."

Nevertheless, the move sparked a bit of outrage in what is quickly becoming a heated primary battle in the Commonwealth. The blog that broke the story, Not Larry Sabato, wrote (in caps lock): "IN AN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE IN VIRGINIA, (AND SHOWING HORRIBLE JUDGMENT) THE BRIAN MORAN CAMPAIGN HAS SENT VIDEO TRACKERS OUT TO FOLLOW AND RECORD DOROTHY MCAULIFFE."

McAullife's campaign, meanwhile, issued a press statement that showed the requisite combination of humor and outrage.

"When the Moran campaign said that it was time to play hardball, we didn't realize that meant following other candidate spouses!" wrote senior strategist Mo Elleithee. "We're flattered that they find Dorothy to be as compelling a surrogate as we do. The more people hear both her and Terry make our case, the better."

But it is at this juncture, it seems, that the minor controversy will end. The decision to keep the film rolling while Dorothy McAuliffe spoke, whether it was a mistake to begin with or not, apparently won't happen again. Nor, the Moran campaign says, had such activities happened before.

"We have not, are not and will not be 'tracking' Dorothy McAuliffe," said Moran spokesman Jesse Ferguson.