Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy confirmed Thursday that the Republican volunteer whom Jack Davis was caught on camera slapping was in fact a member of Republican candidate Jane Corwin’s staff — reportedly her chief of staff.
The Erie County GOP released a video late Wednesday night of a man asking Davis why he had opted out of the debate that took place Thursday morning, and Davis responding by asking “Do you want punched out?” and slapping the camera away from his face. The man was identified as a “Republican volunteer” in the ECGOP’s email.
Earlier on Thursday, 2 On Your Side, the local NBC affiliate that had a crew at the scene of the so-called “assault,” raised doubts about the circumstances. The report said that the crew had not seen Davis actually make “physical contact” with the man, and noted that there had been another volunteer with a camera. They called for the Republicans to release the footage from that second camera.
Langworthy told WBEN radio that the man – who some media outlets have identified as Corwin’s Chief of Staff Michael Mallia – was not there in his capacity as a Corwin staffer. “It was after hours in a capacity for the Republican Party,” said Langworthy.
He told WBEN that “it’s not uncommon for political workers to be out at campaign events. ‘We also have folks making phone calls, going door to door, things of that nature. That’s what just happened that night, he went to that event and happened to have this occur.’”
Corwin told WIBV TV that the man was acting on his own time and that, “I’m not responsible for what he’s doing after hours.” She declined to say that she wished he hadn’t done it, noting that on his own time, “it’s up to him to decide how he wants to behave.” Nonetheless, she said, “I don’t think it speaks well of Jack’s temperament.”
Mallia was functioning as a tracker, following the candidate around to campaign events and filming things, looking for a gaffe. It’s a technique commonly used by campaigns. However, it is more common to release the full camera footage of the event, rather than an abruptly edited take like this one.