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By David Wenner
State House candidate David Buell said that someone impersonated him in racially tinged tweets and also set up websites intended to hurt his campaign.
“The divisive and racially-biased political attacks being used against me are disgusting and wrong. Whoever created the fake websites and Twitter account pretending to be me must be held accountable for their repulsive actions,” Buell, who is running in the 103rd state House district, told PennLive on Monday.
Buell, a Republican, works in financial services and is a former two-term Cumberland County prothonotary.
His opponent in the Republican primary in Jennie Jenkins-Dallas, a former Harrisburg police officer who previously sought office as a Democrat.
The Democrats running for the seat are five-term incumbent Patty Kim, former Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, and community advocate Heather MacDonald.
Reached on Monday, Kim said, “I am absolutely sure that we have not taken any part in this.”
Sarah Yerger, MacDonald’s campaign manager, said, “Anyone that knows our campaign knows that we are consistently honest and have no interest in wasting time between now and election day. It’s damaging to impersonate someone who is trying to be a public servant and work for the people of our district. Dave has our support on this issue.”
The 103rd is a newly redrawn district that includes Harrisburg and Cumberland County’s West Shore.
Fake Tweets shared by Buell suggest he fears being shot while campaigning in Harrisburg neighborhoods. Buell said such untrue claims are especially harmful in the new, racially-diverse district.
“I am running for state representative to unite our East Shore and West Shore communities, not divide them. The person or people who created these fake accounts clearly has no idea who I am, why I am running, or what my priorities are,” he said.
Buell further said tactics that interfere with the ability of district residents to research him or any candidate disenfranchise voters and prevent fair elections.
Buell, 57, said he learned of the fake accounts from a friend on Saturday night. He succeeded in getting Twitter to take down the fake account on the grounds it violated rules against impersonation. But the websites and domains are harder to address and remain online, he said Monday.
He said he reported the incidents to police in Camp Hill, where he lives.
Buell said someone apparently bought several domains containing his name and terms that could logically be associated with his campaign. He shared screenshots which appear to show those domains directing people to campaign sites of Kim and MacDonald.
While Buell didn’t directly accuse any of his opponents of being involved, he called on them to “condemn” the tactics and share with police any information that might lead to who is responsible.
David Wenner is a reporter for PennLive, where this story first appeared.
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