Yesterday, Markos Moulitsas ("The Daily Kos") was tweeting something that caught my eye.
Obviously I had to click through. Turns out they "outed" a poseur in their ranks who was discouraging people from voting for Rand Paul's opponent, Jack Conway. But the supposed coup de grâce was that this person was Thomas Kubica, who happens to be a paid intern in the Rand Paul campaign.
Kos was reluctant to disclose any details of the method he used to tie the "Huey Long" poster to Kubica's name. (My best technologically challenged guess was that perhaps Kubica had used his real email address during the registration process and that same email address produced a Linked In entry in search results. )
I was cringing,because I had my doubts that the story was false. There are lots of bad ideas that emerge from youthful good intentions, and it did not seem out of the realm of my reality that a bored college student would troll the internet for his candidate of choice. The subtle approach certainly indicates a certain level of intelligence. And while libertarian friends never cease to remind me that Rand Paul isn't Ron Paul, the entire Paul family draws support from both sides of the aisle, especially in the 18-25 demographic. Finding out that there was a damned dirty college Democrat supporting Rand Paul wasn't really much of a reach.
True or not, I hoped that story wouldn't get legs. I wasn't going to give it any help, that's for sure, because "coincidentally," Jack Conway was holding a money bomb fundraiser yesterday. Of course the Kos klan were sufficiently manipulated riled up by this perceived offense that they began donating enthusiastically. It seemed obvious to me: if this story went viral, the Conway campaign would reap huge financial benefits.
Markos tweeted the accusation all afternoon, and eventually Politico picked up the story. Other bloggers also gleefully reported on the discovery. The Conway cash ticker crashed in the afternoon.
But there was something else that the Kos and Politico's very own Journ-O-lister Ben Smith didn't mention: Kubica denied the accusation.
Truth be told, I cringed again. A college kid doing something goofy probably isn't enough to cost a campaign a 15 point lead, as long as the campaign takes responsibility for the bad behavior. But if Kubica was lying, and the campaign stood by him.... now that could be trouble.
Today, the story has taken a new turn. Smith is reporting that the campaign received an email from "Tom Kubica" attached to an email address attached to a Massachusetts IP. They maintain this indicates the Kos troll isn't legitimate, but I'm not convinced yet. I'd really like to see what the Daily Kos used to identify "Huey Long."
Thomas, if it's true, man up already. You know I'm on your side, but if you're covering your own butt, you're hurting the campaign.
**Updated - Smith's story has been updated. Markos is claiming that the troll used the same email address that is attached to the Linked In account. So, unless an imposter also set up a Linked In account in Kubrica's name, the intern is busted.
Udated Update: Politico is now reporting that :
the email that was used is firstname.lastname@example.org. Kubica's email handle is identical, but with a different Internet provider. Howard said that the cox.net email address is on Paul's mailing list, but they've never seen it used by Kubica. He said he believes Kubica's denial that it's his account, in part because Cox is a regional provider unavailable in Kentucky or in Pennsylvania, where Kubica went ot [SIC] school, though it is available elsewhere in the country.
Now I'm back to "Damn those dirty Democrats!"