A teenager who recorded a controversial video claims close ties to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.
The video - which shows Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb speaking about gun control at a private event in Saratoga County in May - was recorded secretly and released anonymously in early July. The video was picked up by a conservative news site and quickly went viral. Until now, it hasn’t been clear exactly where the tape came from.
Asked for confirmation of the young man's status, campaign manager Lenny Alcivar texted, "ask NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] about the video, not us." Pressed to clarify, Alcivar didn't answer questions about the young man's role in the campaign.
NCPR has identified the teenager and has photographs of him both with Stefanik and attending two Tedra Cobb events. We are withholding his name because he is under the age of 18.
I am not going to confirm or deny anything...do not call me at work, do not call me at homeReached by telephone, the 17-year-old and his father both declined to comment and asked not to be contacted again.
“I am not going to confirm or deny anything," said the young man's father. "I don’t know what you’re looking at or what pictures you’re talking about. I would appreciate it if you do not call me at work, do not call me at home."
When reached inadvertently by a reporter, the teenager also declined to comment and hung up the telephone.
Stefanik has cited the video repeatedly in attacks made on the campaign trail, but she hasn't disclosed that the recording came from a person connected to her office or re-election campaign.
Asked about the matter today by NCPR, Stefanik denied knowledge: "My campaign doesn’t employ trackers," she said. “I actually don’t know the name of the individual, so I am not aware of that.”
The video was released on YouTube after the teenager apparently began working for Stefanik's campaign, but the congresswoman referred questions to the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Typically trackers are employed by the congressional committees," Stefanik said. "They are not employed by my campaign. We have lots of volunteers across the district. I am not aware of this individual’s name."
NCPR asked repeatedly if Stefanik felt it was appropriate for a 17-year-old to be sent to work as a "tracker" following a political opponent, but the congresswoman declined to answer.