Weekend open thread: Sock puppet edition

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? The Des Moines Register reported on a Waukee City Council member who admitted to sock puppetry on Facebook. I’ve posted some details about the case after the jump. Unfortunately, Shane Blanchard was just re-elected in November.  

Blanchard’s reprehensible actions reminded me that with an election year coming, I need to repeat this site’s policy on posts by elected officials, candidates, and campaign staffers or consultants.

Bleeding Heartland commenters and diarists can write under any screen name they choose. No one is required to reveal real names or any personal information. “Outing” other users will get you banned here. I do ask Bleeding Heartland users not to make false statements about themselves. You’re free to never mention your age, gender or location, but if you say you are a 40-something Jewish mother living in Windsor Heights, you should be a 40-something Jewish mother living in Windsor Heights.

I also ask that you stick to one username whenever you comment at Bleeding Heartland. In other words, creating “sock puppets” to lend support for your own position is not acceptable.

Democratic candidates and elected officials are welcome to post here, and I often promote their diaries to the front page. In order to avoid problems that have cropped up at other political blogs, I ask paid campaign staffers or consultants to disclose that fact if they write about the campaign they’re working on. However, someone employed by a campaign can post anonymously about topics not related to that candidate’s race.

This Shane Blanchard sounds like a real piece of work, based on Timothy Meinch’s story for the Des Moines Register. Years ago, Blanchard created a Facebook account under the name “James Buchamen,” ostensibly to see what other people were saying about him. But he was’t just using the account to observe–he was posting about other city council members and interacting with many Waukee residents under false pretenses.

When questioned by The Des Moines Register today, Blanchard confirmed the accusations are true.

“It was something stupid I did. I regret it and I’ve moved on,” Blanchard said. […]

He also said he became a changed man after surrendering his life to Jesus in the late ’90s, as outlined in an open letter he released to the public Oct. 24.

A couple days after releasing the letter, Blanchard was still operating online and interacting with council members under the Buchamen alias, according to documents provided to The Des Moines Register.

“I don’t know which Shane to believe: Shane Blanchard or James Buchamen,” Waukee Councilman-elect Brian Harrison said.

Harrison and others added that they wonder if the Nov. 5 election outcome, which ousted [Mike] Watts, a three-term councilman, would have been different had the public known about Blanchard’s questionable Internet activity.

Why am I not surprised to learn that Blanchard claims to be a born-again Christian? If he were a decent, honest person who truly regrets his actions, he would resign from the city council.

Tags: Blogging

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