GOP aide busted for fake blog posts on liberal sites

Published: Monday September 25, 2006

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Liberal bloggers have uncovered a staff member to Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH) using government computers to make fake posts on liberal blogs in New Hampshire, today's ROLL CALL reports.

Heard on The Hill columnist Mary Ann Akers has authorized RAW STORY to reprint the full registration-restricted item below:


Liberal bloggers in New Hampshire busted an aide to Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) who was posing as a liberal blogger on such blogs as Blue Granite, NH-02 Progressive and others. Bass’ office admitted culpability to HOH and said the staffer would be “appropriately disciplined.”

The unnamed aide to Bass — who, like many others in his party, faces a tough re-election fight — was routinely trolling liberal New Hampshire political blogs calling himself “IndyNH” and more commonly IndieNH, pretending to be a progressive.

Finally, after noticing that lots of things he said just didn’t add up, a couple of the bloggers traced IndieNH’s IP address to the House of Representatives.

And they thought, “How many offices in the U.S. House would be interested in one race in New Hampshire?” The answer: Very few. Probably only one.

Laura Clawson, who runs the Blue Granite blog and writes as “Miss Laura,” told HOH that she and another blogger easily traced IndieNH’s IP address to the House server. They could even see the searches Mr. or Ms. IndieNH was doing to gather opposition research on Bass’ challenger, Paul Hodes (D), such as “Hodes and gay marriage” and “Hodes and taxes.”

The poseur had raised suspicions among liberal bloggers after he pooh-poohed a recent poll showing Bass tied with Hodes and suggested that Democrats should not waste any more time or money on the Hodes race and instead should invest their resources in other races.

“I am going to look at the competitive race list to figure out where to send another donation and maybe help out in other ways,” IndieNH posted. “Maybe CT or NY for me — they are at least close by. Anyone interested in pooling NH efforts for some of those races? Maybe we could even go help out for a few days in buses or something in November?”

After Clawson posted a notice on her site informing IndieNH that he (or she — Clawson wasn’t sure) had been rooted out as a GOP aide in Bass’ office, the postings ceased.

The aide’s job could cease, too. John Billings, a spokesman for Bass, acknowledged that “we have questioned the staff and found that a staffer in this office did indeed post to some blogs under the pseudonym ‘IndieNH.’ There was no good reason for this, just a

serious lapse of judgment, and the staffer will be appropriately disciplined.”

Billings, who would not identify the offending staffer, said the office issued a memo “clarifying that posting messages to blogs or other web sites from government computers is a violation of office policy. Congressman Bass will not tolerate this sort of activity in his office.”

The incident follows a string of cases in which Capitol Hill aides have been caught modifying entries on Members in Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

Billings added that while the action was certainly a violation of office policy, “whether or not it was a violation of House rules and what disciplinary action is necessary or appropriate is under review.”

No one was more disappointed to hear of the transgression than the folks on the Hodes campaign. (Yeah, right.)

“It’s a safe bet that Bass staffers are the only people on the House network who spend their days reading blogs on the district and running Internet searches on Paul Hodes,” said Hodes spokesman Reid Cherlin. “I guess when you roll over on the big issues you end up with a lot of time on your hands — but I’m pretty sure the taxpayers meant those computers to be used for legislating, not campaigning.”