Scott Prouty, the 38-year-old Florida bartender who secretly filmed Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” remark that negatively impacted the GOP presidential nominee’s campaign, revealed in his first interview why he felt obligated to release the video. “You shouldn’t have to be able to afford $50,000 to hear what a candidate actually thinks,” he told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz on Wednesday.
“The guy was running for the presidency and these were his core beliefs,” he said. “And I think everybody can judge whether that’s appropriate or not or whether they believe the same way he does. I felt an obligation to expose the things he was saying.”
Prouty said he brought the video camera to the May 2012 fundraiser thinking that Romney would take pictures with the staff, like Bill Clinton had done at another event Prouty worked. (The aloof Romney not only did not oblige, but upon his arrival to the fundraiser he asked the service industry workers to move along.)
”I didn’t go there with a grudge against Romney,” he said. “I really had no idea he would say what he said.”
But among the things he did videotape Romney saying that day was this particularly damaging remark: that “the 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. These are people who pay no income tax.” Romney himself acknowledged in a recent interview that he believed the video “did real damage” to his campaign.
Prouty’s identity has remained a mystery until his appearance on “The Ed Show” on Wednesday night.
Mother Jones’ David Corn, who first reported the story, explained after the interview aired how he got the video and tracked down its anonymous source:
The source was justifiably worried about repercussions. Once the video was posted, he might lose his job. He might face criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit. Months earlier, he had anonymously posted a snippet from the video, in which Romney nonchalantly described the work-camp-like living conditions at a Chinese factory he had visited. The source, offended by these comments, had hoped that the short clip would catch fire in the political-media world. But it hadn’t, partly because its context and origins were unknown. The source’s desire to remain in the shadows had hindered his ability to bring the story to the public.
Then James Carter IV, a freelance researcher (and, though I didn’t know it then, the grandson of Jimmy Carter) who had been sending me public documents regarding Romney’s prior business investments, had, at my request, tracked the anonymous poster down. I subsequently persuaded him to send me the full video of the fundraiser and to allow me to release portions of it, under the strict condition that I’d do whatever was possible to keep his identity hidden.
...I respected his desire for privacy. He was about to commit a courageous and unprecedented act of whistle-blowing. But as we neared publication, I said I had to know his name. Do you really need it? he asked. Yes, I replied, explaining I could not publish the stories without knowing his identity. I vowed I would keep it a secret.
I had waited until the final moments to press him on this. I realized there was a chance that he might decline to identify himself, and the story would die. He asked once more if it was necessary. I said it was and held my breath. There was a long silence. “Scott,” he said. “Scott Prouty.” Thank you, I replied. Then we moved on to other details.