A staffer working for Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s (R-PA) campaign faked his identity at a campaign event for his Democratic opponent Scott Wallace.
Ariel Benjamin Mannes attended events claiming to be a writer who “(files) for Bucks County Courier,” but he’s actually a part-time staffer for the Republican’s campaign, according to the paper.
He asked several questions to the Democratic candidate that were overtly political, which tipped Democrats off that he wasn’t a real journalist.
In an event last week, the “reporter” posing as “Ben Mendelson” showed up to a Wallace event about food stamps in Buck’s County. Instead, “Mendelson” asked an array of questions that had nothing to do with the topic. A week later, Wallace’s comments from the event wound up in a story for the conservative paper The Washington Examiner and in a press release from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The Bucks County Courier only learned about the claim last week and reached out with questions for the campaign. The fake reporter submitted a guest opinion piece under another fake name last month. This was before he falsely identified himself as a reporter.
“I file for Bucks County Courier in Philadelphia,” the man can be heard saying on video before trailing off the video.
Only after the paper contacted Fitzpatrick’s campaign did the man resign and Fitzpatrick called the behavior “completely unacceptable.” Fitzpatrick then called the paper to apologize.
“I can’t say I’m surprised that Republicans would send somebody to our events and ask them to pose as a reporter so they can record Scott undetected,” Wallace campaign manager Eric Nagy said in an emailed statement. “With the lies and smears they’re spreading about Scott on TV, this is just one more unethical tactic to add to the list.”
There were at least five videos of the campaign uploaded to a channel that has more than 600 videos of Democratic candidates on it that can be dissected by Republican researchers. Mannes or “Mendelson” is no longer with the campaign.