Sunday, November 23, 2014
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The PA House Twitter wars

The PA House Twitter wars

 

This post was written by Josh Fatzick, a summer intern with The Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association.


A new Twitter account for the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) popped up on the social-networking website last week, only this one is fake.

The first tweet from the account came Friday afternoon, and while the handle @PAHRCC sounds official enough, the tagline reads: “This account is a joke. Just like our policies.” 

The twitter account takes shots at Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) and Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), who in the past has been outspoken about his opposition to same-sex marriage.

A few examples:

On July 23: "The only thing worse than a House Democrat is a Senate Republican. RT if you think @SenatorPileggi is worse than Obama!"

On July 22: "Monday morning and we're waiting for @DarylMetcalfe to tell us who we should hate this week."

The House Republican Campaign Committee released a statement that said the twitter account is not controlled or authorized by the PA HRCC and, by taking on the persona of the HRCC, the account is in violation of Twitter’s impersonation policy.

“Twitter has been notified of the situation and we believe it will be handled quickly and properly,” the statement said.

Both Marty Santalucia, deputy executive director at the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC), and the HDCC’s official twitter account retweeted two of the first tweets from the fake account, leading the Republicans to believe the Democrats were behind the @PAHRCC account.

“It’s no wonder Rep. Jesse White (D., Washington) thought it was alright to impersonate people online and misrepresent their views when the House Democratic Campaign Committee controlled by House Democrat Leaders not only condones it but actively participates in it,” the HRCC said in a statement.

Asked to comment on the matter, House Democratic Campaign Committee executive director Ethan Smith acknowleged the HDCC was behind the fake account, but explained it this way:

"We knew the GOP wanted to take Pennsylvania back to the 1800s, but we didn't know that meant ignoring technology in 2013. Seriously, they didn't have a Twitter account? When the media is full of stories that the poor leadership of [House Majority Leader] Mike Turzai made their party's failed Governor go oh for three despite majorities in both chambers, I guess there's little room for a sense of humor over there.

Dave Reed (R-Indiana) who heads the House Republican Campaign Committee, called it childish.

"It's pretty sad when you've got to go online and impersonate people," he said.

 

It came to light last month that White used multiple online identities to criticize the drilling industry and attack some of his constituents who favored gas well drilling on their land.

White admitted to using the online personas, and after sitting down with Democratic House leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny), White apologized to the people he impersonated.

"On occasion, I have exercised my First Amendment rights and responded in kind, which was an error in judgment that I regret," White said in a statement.

 

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About this blog

Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis and Amy Worden in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based right in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.



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