ST. PAUL — Until this week, Scott Prouty's only bout with fame came when he dived into a canal in Florida and saved a woman from drowning. Like many Americans, the Boston area native held down working-class jobs, ran into some financial trouble and remained generally anonymous.
But not many Americans are responsible for nearly bringing down a presidential campaign. And Prouty, 38, has now outed himself as the man who shot the infamous "47 percent" video showing Mitt Romney dismissing President Barack Obama's supporters during a private fundraiser, the single event that more than anything else may have ruined Romney's shot at the presidency.
"I was behind this whole thing," Prouty, who now lives in Florida, said as he revealed on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" on Wednesday night that he had secretly filmed Romney's comments while tending bar at the $50,000-per-plate event.
Prouty's unveiling, if nothing else, exposed him to the scrutiny that comes with being one of the most influential, if unknown, figures in the presidential campaign that gave Obama a second term. Speaking in firm, declarative tones with a slight Boston accent, Prouty presented himself as someone not motivated by politics, saying he is a "registered independent" who tends to vote Democratic but "didn't go there with a grudge against Romney."
Yet voter-registration records show that Prouty registered as a Democrat in 2002, and election officials said he has maintained that party affiliation. His former Twitter account is full of populist and political messages, including several criticizing Romney or former GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and another blasting National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre as "an evil man." Prouty attended Obama's second inauguration and also told MSNBC's Ed Schultz he was "proud to call him my president."