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December 6, 2009

Five things they do and places they look

Story: Where does the opposition look for dirt?

WHAT OPPOSITION RESEARCHERS DO

1. Do standard background checks on the candidate first. Use public records for current and past financial disclosure statements, real estate transactions, liens, judgments, criminal records, law suits, bankruptcy filings, military records, vehicle ownership, aircraft and watercraft ownership, businesses owned or operated, professional licenses and educational degrees.

2. Follow the dollars. Money is the lifeblood of an election. Often the candidate with the most money wins. Identify the top donors. The candidate may be taking money from people or companies at odds with his stated positions on issues.

3. Nothing is more powerful than a candidate's own words. Research speeches and interviews as well as anything the candidate has written. Look for examples of the candidate changing his message or positions. This may signal a relationship between campaign contributions and policy positions.

4. Old dirt is good dirt. If the candidate has run in earlier elections, contact former opponents and ask about information they may be willing to share.

5. Keep an eye on the Internet. It's gossip central, where anything goes. But leads developed from the Internet should be corroborated by public records or other sources.

SOURCE: Investigative Research Specialists

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