Lentol campaign paid for sock-puppet Twitter accounts to boost support, Gallagher campaign alleges
The evidence suggests a social media consultant led an astroturf effort
Today, Greenpoint activist and former Brooklyn Community Board 1 member Emily Gallagher is campaigning to unseat New York State Assembly Member Joseph Lentol in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
On November 22, 2003, she was an undergrad with a LiveJournal.
“Well, I learned me some lessons,” she wrote that day, describing a “homeless party” she had attended a few nights before. “This consisted of me in a hat and scarf, steve in a fur coat, meaghan wrapped in a blanket and chelle in a garbage bag, passing around a cheap jug of sangria in a paper bag.”
When the New York Daily News reported Saturday on this and other posts from Gallagher’s past, a representative for Lentol told the paper, “While we’re not responsible for finding these statements, they are reprehensible."
The Gallagher campaign has claimed otherwise, telling the New York Post that Citizens For Lentol found Gallagher’s LiveJournal and disseminated screenshots via sock-puppet Twitter accounts allegedly operated by one or both of the campaign’s two social media consultants.
The Lentol campaign did not comment on the allegations to the Post. Neither the campaign nor the two consultants responded to e&c’s requests for comment.
But e&c has identified six Twitter accounts that have tweeted and retweeted claims and screenshots meant to boost support for Lentol and damage Gallagher, who represents the first threat in a decade to the Assembly Member’s 47-year incumbency.
The accounts have three things in common with each other, and with Lentol campaign consultant Kyle Christopher’s account, @Flatbush_kloud: They have fiercely supported Lentol, they have tweeted from an Android phone, and the accounts are associated with a phone number that ends in 90.
The account @honey_saweeti has tweeted most prominently, criticizing Gallagher and her supporters, revealing old and potentially embarrassing tweets from Gallagher, and posting a screenshot from the 2003 LiveJournal, on June 11. This appears to have been the first mention of the candidate’s LiveJournal on social media.
The account is named “neka,” with a rose emoji to suggest socialist affinities. After joining Twitter last year, the account was initially prone to retweeting MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, and Lentol’s Director of Communications, Emily Mijatovic.
Another account, @ErinDuncanONeM — who is a “redhead. deal with it,” according to the account’s bio — has mostly been used to stan Elizabeth Warren, Youtube personality Jeffree Starr, and Mijatovic, the Lentol staffer. On March 11, responding to a tweet from Mijatovic about Lentol’s prominent endorsers, @ErinDuncanONeM said, “Sounds like Gallagher needs to prove herself beyond Twitterverse.”
Other accounts, including @NYCEXIT, sandinoyuuto, stotch_b, and GlassOfWaterD1, have mainly favorited and retweeted claims by @honey_saweeti and other Lentol supporters. The alleged sock-puppets have been inactive since early this past week, after e&c first sought comment from Christopher, the social media consultant.
Beyond their activity in the Lentol–Gallagher primary, Christopher and Lentol’s other social media consultant, Michael Lambert, have also been active in Queens politics. They loath State Senator Michael Gianaris for his opposition last year to Amazon’s proposed complex in Long Island City, Queens. And they posted extensively in support of Melinda Katz during last year’s Queens District Attorney Democratic primary.
In his Queens-related posting, Christopher has feuded with a Queens-based blogger — and “self-admitted, out-there troll” — named Connie Murray, alias @fuelgrannie. Murray has noticed a mix of authentic and inauthentic Twitter activity in her interactions with Christopher, telling e&c in an interview last weekend, “Kyle freaking retweets himself — he has conversations with himself — as a sock puppet.”
In a statement to e&c, Gallagher campaign manager Andrew Epstein said, “Emily's grassroots campaign has been focused squarely on the needs of renters, workers, small business owners and victims of police violence. Joe Lentol's campaign pays internet trolls to dig through a teenage girl's online diary. The contrast could not be more clear."
According to New York Board of Elections filings, Citizens For Lentol has paid Christopher $12,500 out of a total $32,500 that the campaign has spent on “social media consulting.” The campaign has spent a total of $342,180.78 in the past year’s lead-up to this week’s primary.
What else is up in Greenpoint?
Brooklynites Call for Boycott of Greenpoint Bar After Owner's Alleged Racism (Brooklyn Paper)
Brooklyn Community Board 1 will meet on Wednesday, its first full meeting since February.
The Dept. of Buildings on Tuesday approved plans for a residential building at 217 Franklin Ave.
Thus concludes this June 21, 2020 edition of East & Creek, the VERY OCCASIONAL newsletter about Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Read the full archives here.
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See ya around the neighb,