MussoLandrieu: Bill Cassidy (R-LA) campaign compares Senator Landrieu to Mussolini

Fresh on the heels of one inappropriate photoshop, a new Republican Senate candidate has waded into another controversy involving a female Senate candidate.  This time, the victim is Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), while the perpetrator is her likely 2014 opponent , Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

In a blog post, The Hayride compared Senator Landrieu to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini for her vote to end filibusters on judicial nominees.  The blog entry also featured this lovely picture, with Landrieu’s face superimposed on Mussolini’s body:


The Hayride is unaffiliated with Landrieu’s campaign and the blog entry would not have gotten any real publicity…had it not been tweeted out by Joel DiGrado, who manages Cassidy’s campaign against Landrieu:

(By the way, this is just a personal peeve – her name is not “Mary” – it’s Senator Landrieu.  There is a way to attack an elected official’s policies and votes without being disrespctful)

Naturally, Landrieu’s campaign condemned the post:

“Louisiana politics is colorful and spicy, but this picture is downright despicable and disrespectful,” Landrieu campaign manager Adam Sullivan said Friday.

Making things even worse: DiGrado refused to comment on the story when Politico tried to contact him.  This is in stark contrast to the way the NRSC handled their “Obama Girl” tweet, featuring Alison Lundergan Grimes: that tweet was deleted, the NRSC acknwoledged it was inappropriate and said that they were taking action against the staffer who had tweeted it.

Two particular items to note here.  First, staff speaks for the candidate, and this includes Twitter.  If you work for a candidate and you tweet, congrats, everything you tweet is now seen as a reflection on a candidate.  One of my predecessors as State Representative, Jack Pressmann, repeatedly told staff that if they were ever arrested, the lead story would be “An aide to Representative Jack Pressmann was arrested…” He was absolutely right.  Staff speaks for the candidate.  That includes Twitter.  As such, be careful what you tweet.

Second, if you are going to say something absurdly stupid, pick a direction and go.  DiGrado should be doing one of two things right now: he should either apologize and delete the tweet, or he should double down and scream about how Landrieu voted for dictatorial powers (kinda funny how a majority vote apparently means dictatorial power, but that’s a different story).  By ignoring calls for comment, he is losing the opportunity to put his stamp on the story and hit Landrieu for her vote.  He’s pulling an ostrich and putting his hand in the sand.  As a result, he has a half-hearted, bad tweet that comes with all of the negatives of doing something stupid losing the opportunity to hit his opponent.

Kentucky prosecutor knows better, makes Facebook post anyway

First, a little background.  Kevin Ware is a college basketball player for the Louisville Cardinals; you might remember him last year from the gruesome injury he suffered in the NCAA tournament.  In October, Ware was pulled over in Barren County, Kentucky, after driving his car at 95 mph through a construction zone.  He then missed his first court date on the matter.  Ware has since said he will plead guilty to what is essentially a speeding ticket.


Doug Hardin is a prosecutor in Barren County, and apparently a big Kentucky Wildcats fan (they are rivals of the Cardinals).  As captured by the Cardinal Connect, Hardin clearly isn’t the swiftest.  This Facebook post appeared on Hardin’s Social Media:

Hardin1 Hardin2

Wait…what?  Really?  This seems like a good idea?  To make fun of a national celebrity that your office is prosecuting, even if you aren’t the actual prosecutor?

Hardin make a third post after the first two:


So, to summarize: Hardin knows that the posts have the potential to get him into trouble, yet he posts them anyway.  What planet is this guy living on?  Why does he think this is a good idea?  The irony, of course, is that he KNOWS it isn’t a good idea (“Trying to think of a good Kevin Ware speeding ticket/failure to appear joke that won’t get retweeted…”).  Yet he posts it anyway!

No disciplinary action has been taken on Hardin yet, though I wouldn’t be surprised if this were coming.  I doubt this is a career-ender, but it clearly shows poor judgement.  Oh, and Hardin’s Facebook post is publicly viewable, at least in part.  If the entire profile is open to the public, then it appears that Hardin was smart enough to delete the posts.

Naturally, Hardin isn’t the first lawyer to wade (no pun intended) into the deep end.  Earlier this year, attorney Sarah Herr, who worked for the Kansas Court of Appeals, live-tweeted the disiplinary hearing of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.  Kline was facing charges of improper behavior regarding his efforts to close Kansas abortion facilities, and Herr tweeted her dislike of Kline, from office computers, during work time:



Herr was fired and is facing disciplinary charges that could include disbarment.   

Be careful what you put on Social Media, particularly given whatever job you have.  Intended or not, your tweets may come off as a representation of your employer’s views, and that could get you into major trouble.  

Congressional candidate photographed in compromising positions

There is a fantastic Onion news story: Report: Every 2040 Presidential Candidate Already Unelectable Due to Facebook.

Like the best Onion articles, this one is funny for its accuracy.  It’s also a premonition that is starting to come true: photographs have emerged of Stewart Mills, Republican Congressional Candidate in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, that are, shall we say, less than flattering.  Two pictures in particular jump out.  The first shows Mills hitting a beer bong:

I'm Stewart Mills and I approve this message?

I’m Stewart Mills and I approve this message?

And the second shows Mills licking the lips of a woman who is not his wife:


The pics were found on a publicly available Facebook page by the City Pages blog.  It notes that the pictures were found on  Mills’ wife’s Facebook page and uploaded in 2009, though they were deleted around the time Mills’ campaign began.

In a statement, Mills didn’t apologize for the pictures:

It’s no secret that in the past I’ve let my hair down to have fun with family and friends. My wife and I have had many lighthearted moments in our lives but right now I am focused on my Congressional campaign and the disastrous effects of our overreaching government and sky high unemployment in the north eastern Minnesota [sic].

Could just be me, but the non-apology nature of his statement, combined with his admission that he had previously “let his hair down” leads me to believe that we’ll be seeing more pictures shortly – and you can certainly bet that the incumbent Congressman, Rick Nolan, is looking for those pictures.

This is just another example of politicians getting caught on Facebook in compromising positions, and there will be plenty, plenty more to come as time goes on.  My personal belief?  At some point in the not so distant future, this country (or at least most of it) will hit a point where these pictures stop phasing people.  I cannot imagine that there are many in the United States who have never done something that would have preferred to have not been photographed, and the simple truth is that we are living in a digital, egotistical generation that seeks to record every moment.  As such, it’s only natural that these moments should arise.  I doubt that this will hit Mill’s campaign very hard – though embarrassing, there is no criminal behavior on display here.

However, Mill’s escapades prove a point, particularly for those who are just starting to enter the work force: for the love of God, be careful.  There are cameras everywhere now, and these pictures can and will come back to haunt you.

Politwoops: No deleting tweets for you!

I am very grateful for the website Politwoops.  The site is an offshoot of the Sunlight Foundation, who’s goal is to make “government more accountable and transparent.”

Politwoops works by maintaining a database of politicians and elected officials.  When anyone in their database tweets, the tweet is captured.  If a tweet is deleted, it will show up in their database.  You can then view how long a tweet was up before it was deleted, as well as a screengrab of any links that were contained in the deleted tweet.  From a user perspective, you can search the database by name, position or location.

Politwoops regularly captures embarrassing mistakes.  A look at their most recent week in review shows how one Congressional candidate deleted tweets that claimed to feature him in a picture with Newt Gingrich and Gingrich’s wife.  Among the various reasons for the deleted tweets: wrong hashtag, his wife’s name is wrong and he’s not the man in the picture.  Ouch.  Somewhere, a volunteer is getting yelled at.  In another example, Congressman Tom Latham (R-IA) becomes the latest politician to confuse satire with real life, as he tweets his disgust at MSNBC host Chris Hayes, supposed of an article on how much he hates Veteran’s Day (note to Latham: SATIRE IS NOT REAL).  The tweet was deleted in 21 seconds.

All of these deleted tweets are funny, but they also prove a point that I discuss frequently: it is not possible to delete anything from the internet.  Once you put it out there, it’s out there forever, and the delete button is irrelevant.  The only time you delete something you posted is to correct a factually inaccurate tweet or as a way to show your regret for inappropriate content.  Deleting in the hopes of covering up a tweet/FB post is not something that is possible.

Deleting a tweet or FB post is something that is a little bit controversial – there are some who argue that, in the name of transparency, you should never delete.  I don’t agree but would be happy to hear your thoughts.  Let us know in the comments!

National Republican Republican Committee tweets sexism

This brilliance was tweeted by the official account of the National Republican Senate Committee:


The “Obama Girl” reference, in case you forgot, was a YouTube video shot during the 2008 primary, that featured a gorgeous young woman who had a crush on Obama.  The above tweet was also retweeted by McConnell’s political director, implying that the tweet had some level of endorsement.

As for the link in the tweet: it went to a story for the “Bluegrass Bulletin” that said that Alison Lundergan Grimes (likely Democratic nominee for Senate in Kentucky) was the new Obama Girl because she attended a fundraiser for the NRSC’s counterpart, the National Democratic Senate Committee.  It also featured this badly photoshopped picture (that’s Lundergan Grimes’ face):


Above: How the GOP woos women voters?

The Grimes campaign called the tweet a “sexualized attack.”  The NRSC, to their credit, acknowledged that the tweet was inappropriate:

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for the NRSC agreed the tweet was “extremely offensive” and said the group plans to delete it.

“It was a mistake made by a junior staffer and disciplinary action has been taken,” said press secretary Brook Hougesen. “We took corrective action as soon as it was brought to our attention and have taken steps to ensure it will never happen again.”

The tweet has since been deleted.

A few lessons from this episode:

1)  What the heck were they thinking:  Seriously.  Who on earth thought tweeting out such blatantly sexist content was a good idea.

2)  Training:  Let’s say, for a minute, that it was a “junior staffer” who tweeted this idiocy.  Clearly, the NRSC’s Social Media policies are off.  As anyone in politics knows, you have to be extra careful with what you say to make sure that you don’t leave yourself open to allegations of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.  The NRSC missed that one with this tweet!  They should have a “no-no” list of content that should never, ever be tweeted.  Anything that smells of sexism should be on there.  More to the point, the junior staffer who supposedly tweeted this should have been better trained.  Social Media policies are great and necessary, but all Social Media Manager’s should be able to think of their feet.

3)  Check your links:  One of my favorite twitter mistakes happened in 2010, when a staffer for Meg Whitman’s campaign (Whitman was the Republican nominee for Governor in California) tried to tweet out a link to a story that showed Whitman getting an endorsement from the San Diego Deputy Sheriffs.  But the link was bad and took viewers to a YouTube video featured a cross-dressing Korean bass player.  Oh dear.  Clearly, the Whitman staffer involved didn’t double check her content.  Neither did the NRSC here.  My honest guess is that the NRSC was just trying to link Lundergand Grimes to Obama, something that is sure to be effective in deep-red Kentucky.  What I bet happened is they missed the picture.  The moral here is that Social Media managers always have to double check their content.

Any thoughts you want to add?  Let us know in the comments!

Lovely racist post featuring Michelle Obama

In a fanastically racist post, the Winona County (Minnesota) Republican Party shared this Facebook post:


As this story notes, the Winona County party has decided to take their political views to whole new levels of controversy, with posts saying that gun control leads to genocide and comparing Nazism to liberalism.

Oh dear.

Not surprisingly, the Minnesota Democratic Party blasted the Winona GOP in a statement:

“Once again actions speak louder than words. While the Republican Party says it is welcoming to communities of color, a local unit, the Winona County Republicans, posted a racist and revolting image on its Facebook page. This comes only weeks after the Chisago County Republicans posted an offensive image on its Facebook page.

“The Winona County post shows First Lady Michelle Obama smiling broadly through a grill of gold teeth and President Barack Obama with no teeth at all. I am outraged by this stereotype of African Americans.

“As executive director of the Minnesota DFL, I challenge the Republican Party leadership to stop the ignorance and hatred and call on their members to treat not only our President and his family, but all people of color with the respect they deserve.”

The Chisago Facebook post referenced here was one a pro-choice/pro-marriage equality argument to slavery:


At least the Chisago Party deleted the post and apologized:


No such apology, yet, from Winona, though the post was deleted.

This is normally when I talk about the “lesson,” so here’s the lesson: don’t put stupid racist things on Facebook.  Easy!



The Meme President

The hearts of the country were captured this week through the adventures of the #SFBatKid.  In case you missed it: the Make-a-Wash Foundation recruited 11,000 volunteers to make Miles’ dream come true.  Miles, 5, wanted to be Batman and save the city.  He spent the day traversing San Francisco, dressed as Batman.  His adventures included saving a damsel in distress who was tied to the trolley tracks, capturing the Riddler and saving the San Francisco Giants’ mascot, Lou Seal, who had been kidnapped.

The entire story was made for Social Media.  Over a 12 hour period, over 220,000 tweets were sent using the #SFBatKid hashtag.  Among them was a tweet from the President of the United States:

The President then cut a Vine that was released shortly after this tweet was sent:

This might not seem like much, but this is actually a big deal. The President’s schedule is cemented days ahead of time, and his Social Media plans likely are as well.  It takes tremendous flexibility to alter a plan, but that’s what Social Media is made for.  What impresses me more than the tweet is the Vine.  Yes, it’s only three seconds, but the President and his staff understand that you don’t need a script or world-class production values when you are cutting a three second Vine.

Obama has a history of embracing internet culture.  Previous articles have noted that he is the first Meme President.  Part of this is timing, but Obama’s success with Social Media is second to none.

So, what’s the lesson here for politicians?

  1. Be flexible with Social Media and ready to adapt to current events.  Any politician in the San Francisco area who wasn’t tweeting with #SFBatKid is a fool.
  2. Production values aren’t as important as timing and the message.  Seriously, if President Obama can do a vine with no make-up (okay, at least minimal make-up) and poor lighting, you can do it too.  Use Social Media to show your human side.
  3. Embrace popular culture.  Again, Social Media allows politicians the opportunity to better connect with their constituents then ever before – and your constituents are clearly going to be consumers of popular culture.  There is no rule that says politicians can’t do this – in fact, thanks to the Meme President and countless others, there is now an expectation that this is how politicians should behave.