NY-22 Minute: Tenney's Response to O'Brien Includes Inaccuracies By Luke Perry
Congresswoman Claudia Tenney’s office recently provided a formal statement responding to staffer Patrick O’Brien posing as “Dave Garland” in digital and social media. The statement read: “After Rep. Tenney became aware of a young staffer’s social media posting on his own time, he was asked to delete the account and refrain from such activity in the future. Unlike Rep. Tenney’s detractors, he was always civil and polite.”
The response was significant for what it addressed and what it didn’t. Tenney’s office implicitly confirmed that O’Brien misrepresented himself, but didn’t express contrition, nor condemn, disavow, or demand an end to such behavior.
The statement appeared to include three inaccuracies:
1) Social media postings by Patrick O’Brien was not exclusively “on his own time.” O’Brien regularly tweeted as “Dave Garland” (@davegarlandusa) during standard business hours, evident in several time-stamped screen shots collected in recent weeks. This included “Garland” and I tweeting back and forth on multiple occasions over the past few months and the promotion of his recently developed blog, Upstate NY Congressional News.
In one instance, I was live-tweeting questions and responses during an open session of approximately twenty constituents at Coffee with Claudia in Cortland (August 4, 2017) when “Garland” started tweeting in response. I didn't realize at the time that Mr. O’Brien, seated across the room with Congresswoman Tenney, Nick Stewart, Tenney’s Chief of Staff, and Hannah Andrews, was the actual source of these tweets.
2) Mr. O’Brien “was asked to delete the account,” but he was responsible for several social media accounts and blog posts as “Dave Garland.” Moreover, several newspapers have acknowledged previously publishing “Dave Garland” letters since this story was initially reported. Meanwhile, “Dave Garland” blog posts at Laternsbuzz are still publicly available. This was not an issue with just one account.
3) Patrick O’Brien was not “always civil and polite” as “Dave Garland," tweeting several derogatory comments about elected officials and local news organizations. For instance, “Disgusting!” (June 27, 2017) was tweeted by "Dave Garland" in response to Anthony Brindisi running for Congress, who later called him names like “the DCCC Golden Boy” (August 21, 2017). “Garland” also criticized the Observer Dispatch and Governor Cuomo, tweeting “Nice job @NYGovCuomo you even managed to piss off the liberal & biased @uticaOD” (August 10, 2017).
Social media communication from Tenney’s office has been silent for several days. Communication will have to resume shortly. Whether this continues with or without Patrick O'Brien remains to be seen.
This story was last edited at 10:54am on September 19, 2017.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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