The entire campaign trackings were a strange backdrop to an event in which an investigator for David Vitter got caught actually spying upon Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand and his friends in a coffee shop, the morning prior to the primary election.
In the recent interview with Bridges, I asked him about this allegation against him and the spying comparisons.
SABLUDOWSKY: Okay now. Vitter actually brought you into that issue. He tried to compare an investigator with a secret camera or that's what the sheriff said was a fake iPhone camera to your asking Sen. Vitter a question during the initial election day-- at the press conference...
TYLER BRIDGES: There was a press forum, there was a candidate forum with Jon Bel Edwards and David Vitter at the Baton Rouge press club, it was on a Monday about two weeks before Election Day, they were going to be debating the next night on LPB. And there had been that whole issue--what happened at the coffee shop. We broke the story at the Advocate where the young man was secretively recording Sheriff Normand and his coffee group--the Vitter campaign said they were really interested in John Cummings, trial lawyer, friends told the guy-- the private investigator leaves the coffee shop in a hurry, runs away, gets arrested while he's hiding behind air-conditioning unit in somebody's yard. Another issue in the campaign particularly by the Vitter campaign, not the Vitter campaign Pro Vitter super PAC, a guy named Josh Sandifer, as a tracker. If you went to a public event with Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle or Jon Bel Edwards you could probably saw him. In some his videos went up in the super PAC attack ads. So at this press conference, Jim Engster asked Vitter a question about the use of trackers and Vitter said "well all people do certain things and you know Tyler Bridges is a tracker", you know that election day, he filmed me while I was talking to my family and the poll watchers. That was only half true. What happened, I was standing there, with two cameramen after Vitter voted at his firehouse where he lives out in Metairie next to I 10 and I held out my tape recorder to ask him as we mentioned before, about the coffee shop. And he wouldn't answer my question. But he later said, I was being a tracker, because of that.
SABLUDOWSKY: So there were cameras actually videoing him and he saw those cameras. They were news cameras.
TYLER BRIDGES: Yes
SABLUDOWSKY: And he saw you and you had your microphone, and
TYLER BRIDGES: Tape recorder
SABLUDOWSKY: I'm sorry, tape recorder, and all that's in plain view
TYLER BRIDGES: Oh, yes it's normal. You interview politicians, especially if their walking, you can't take notes so you hold out your ticket recorder, it happens all time, I was only little surprised that he would accuse me of later tracking him and as I said, there were even to TV cameras that were actually filming, I wasn't filming, it was just kind of a rather straightforward thing.
SABLUDOWSKY: Yeah, a few months before, I had written an article about Josh and the track going on
TYLER BRIDGES: I remember you raise a lot of the legal questions about it. I know that most people agree, it's a pretty distasteful aspect of modern politicking, but you raised some good questions about the stuff that Josh was doing.
SABLUDOWSKY: And, tracking was not exactly what was going on in the coffee shop, I mean Josh
TYLER BRIDGES: That's out-right spying--there are two different things and what you wrote about, I think would kinda fit into a different category, it's one thing for candidates, to have candidates speak publicly and have tracker there as if it were a TV camera. What you wrote about was something different, I think
SABLUDOWSKY: Yea what I wrote about was this guy Josh, with the camera a pole standing behind people who I believe did not know that their conversation was being recorded as they talked to Jon Bel Edwards. I'm not saying Vitter was the only person who did that, in fact, there was a situation, in, I think it was, I think, Thibodeaux where somebody--who was tracking on behalf of a democratic organization, who actually, I saw the video, who came in with David Vitter, with the camera, shooting Vitter, Vitter saw him, he opens the door, Vitter is already inthe room, and he's shooting Vitter, not anybody else, but shooting Vitter talking to people, and the Vitter campaign was trying to use that to say that was identical to what happened in the coffee shop
TYLER BRIDGES: Yeah it was a race that ended up with prostitution, spies, trackers, Syrian refugees, terrorists--it reminded me of that 1991 race, Steve, back then you were a lawye.r
SABLUDOWSKY: Still practicing
TYLER BRIDGES: You were very active in the anti-Duke group and I was covering that race for the Times Picayune but this race reminded me of that race