Campaign Manager for New Mexico gubernatorial candidate resigns after sexist tweets

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Gary King (D) is the Attorney General of New Mexico and Democratic nominee for Governor.  King is now in trouble because of the tweets sent by his (former) campaign manager, Steve Verzwyvelt.

Using his Twitter account (which is now protected), Verzwyvelt sent a series of sexist and offensive tweets in 2011-2012.  The story was first reported by the conservative Washington Free Bacon.  Examples included:

  • “Valentines tip: candy is dandy but liquor is quicker #happyvalentinesday”
  • “Fat girls should not wear bikini’s! #spisspringbreak2012”
  • “Belly dancers :) for Earth Day”
  • On former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney:  “elitiest asshat.”
  • On Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Louisiana Senator David Vitter:  “douchebags.”

And more:

Verzwyvelt1 Verzwyvelt2 Verzwyvelt3 Verzwyvelt4 Verzwyvelt5

When first contacted by the Washington Free Bacon, Verzwyvelt said, “My account was hacked in the first part of February, that could have been it.  It was hacked the first part of the year.  I don’t know what happened, that could have been some of that.”  Well, that’s absurd, for multiple reasons:

  1. No one hacks an account for the purpose of putting out the sporadic offensive tweet.
  2. The tweets came out in 2011-2012, not just the “first part” of the year.
  3. The tweets in question weren’t deleted – if your account was hacked, wouldn’t you delete any offensive tweets?

In the end, Gary King announced that Verzwyvelt has resigned…literally the day after he announced he had been hired.  Ouch.  In a statement, King said, “While they were his personal views, Mr. Verzwyvelt’s comments were, nonetheless not up to the standards of what I expect from my employees and in direct conflict with my own beliefs of tolerance, respect and decency.”

A few takeaways from this story:

  • Candidates should always check the social media of prospective campaign managers or high level staff.  Comments made by the staffers will be assumed to be endorsed by the candidate themselves, even if the comments long predated the date of hiring, as was the case here.  The issue was even more potent for King, as he had attacked his opponent, New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez, on women issues.
  • The tweets here were all old – from 2011-2012.  It was irrelevant.  Candidates and their staff will be held accountable for social media misbehavior, regardless of how recently the tweets were sent.
  • Don’t blame hacking.  You look ridiculous.  That’s what Anthony Weiner tried too.

Anything to add?  Let me know in the comments!

One Comment

  1. I’m not quite sure where I heard this, but I remember hearing about an observational study that was done to better understand two types of social media users – people who share personal information or views on social media and others who are more careful about how they portray themselves. The former are looking for emotional engagement, sympathy and conversation while the latter are more interested in shaping perception about them. There are reasons why people choose to share their views, politically correct or not, and emotional life online, but the risks, at least for me, are way higher than the rewards. This isn’t to say that you can’t say something controversial from time to time, but it’s important to weigh all of the risks and rewards.


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