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10 Tips on Opposition Research

| Candidate Research | October 2, 2013

Larry Zilliox, is a Virginia private investigator with more than 18 years experience conducting opposition research. He is the author of The Opposition Research Handbook: A Guide to Political Investigations 4th Ed. This one-of-a-kind book takes the researcher through the process of compiling information about political candidates. The book offers more than 150 pages of techniques and resources, including checklists for gathering information. The fourth edition provides links to more than 300 of the latest investigative and political Internet resources.

researchInvestigative Research Specialists, LLC

I just released the fourth edition of The Opposition Research Handbook. Our Firm is a  private investigations company with over 20 years’ experience conducting opposition research.

This one-of-a-kind book takes the you through compiling information about political candidates, both the opponent and your own. It offers more than 150 pages of techniques and resources, checklists for gathering information, and security considerations. The fourth edition provides links to over 300 of the latest investigative and political Internet resources.

For Kindle users the book is now available on Amazon. Click here to get your copy The Opposition Research Handbook

Let me offer you Ten Tips about conducting Opposition Research

Ten Tips for Opposition Research – Call us at 703-468-1811

  1. Set a time limit. The belief that you can learn everything about a candidate is not realistic. Many inexperienced opposition researchers have a tendency to look for ‘one more thing’ to obtain.
  2. Remember you are doing research for public records and information. You are not on a spy mission. Be discreet but not deceptive.
  3. Document everything. You must be able to substantiate all the information in your report either through written documents or corroborated interviews.
  4. Our favorite tip is to find someone who has already done the work for you. If the candidate has been in other elections contact the opponent and inquire about what information they may be willing to share.
  5. Do standard background checks on the candidate first using: public records for current and past financial disclosure statements, real estate, liens, judgements, criminal record, law suits, UCC filings, bankruptcy, military records, vehicle ownership, aircraft and watercraft ownership, businesses owned or operated, professional licenses, and education verification.
  6. Our most important tip is to verify everything twice. If possible corroborate with multiple sources. Each fact must have hard copy documentation.
  7. Follow the Dollar. Money is the life blood 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 issue positions.
  8. Nothing is more powerful than a candidate’s own words. Research their speeches and interviews as well as anything they may have written. Look for examples of the candidate changing his message. This may signal a relationship between campaign contributions and policy positions.
  9. The Internet has changed forever the way in which we research, but the information is not always accurate. Leads developed from the Internet should be corroborated by public records or other sources.
  10. Provide your report to the client who hired you only. Politely decline to provide information to the media if asked.


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