Rough politics hit the blog

Alleged impersonation, name-calling color GOP site

October 29, 2006|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun Reporter

The virtual roundtable that is the political blog, where a screen name is often just a clue to the writer's identity, has generated another round of campaign questions and finger-pointing.

This time it's in Harford County, where a top adviser to the Republican county executive bluntly questioned his opponent's intelligence, and someone hinted at a tax increase, with the general election just around the corner.

Harford County Executive David R. Craig's chief of staff acknowledged a posting that described his boss' Democratic opponent as "stupid" came from him. But he denied having anything to do with the entry hinting at a tax increase, even though it came under the same name - "GoldwaterGOP."

"Somebody's in there doing stuff under my handle," said Craig adviser Aaron N. Tomarchio.

About two years ago, an aide to Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was fired after admitting that he discussed rumors of infidelity involving Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley using the screen name "ncpac."

In Harford, a GOP-themed blog,, has churned with rumors and innuendo for months, with some candidates even posting themselves. State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican representing Harford and Cecil counties, once logged on from the Senate floor to critique the design of the Web site.

Last week, the postings took an intriguing turn when a message posted by "GoldwaterGOP" - long believed to be an insider of the Craig camp - broached the topic of potential tax increases to finance much-needed infrastructure improvements. Craig has pledged $230 million for new schools and wants to build a new county administration building and sheriff's precincts.

"Ok - you want an answer? Sometimes you HAVE to raise taxes to deal with unavoidable growth," read the message, posted in response to a question.

Tomarchio, who said Craig's administration does not intend to raise taxes, said he didn't write the message. The site's administrator confirmed that the message and several others came from a different IP address from the one typically used by Tomarchio's screen name. The site does not require visitors to register.

But Tomarchio acknowledged posting comments critical of Ann C. Helton, Craig's Democratic challenger. He mocked her efforts to save Kilgore Falls, a waterfall in Rocks State Park.

"As far as her supposed second attempt to save the falls, she was stupid enough to be lead [sic] by the media to believe that the state was going to sell the falls for development ... how stupid can one person be," he wrote.

Helton called Tomarchio's Internet posts "desperate" and inappropriate.

"He's at all kinds of political events, and the taxpayers are paying for it. I call that stupid," she said.

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