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Man who sent hoax email from GOP candidate had ‘too many beers’ before ‘prank’

Last modified: 5/16/2015 11:23:21 PM
A liberal activist who was booted from Maureen Mann’s special election campaign said he “probably had one too many beers” before he sent out a hoax email saying Mann’s opponent was bowing out of the race.

Carl Gibson said creating a fake email account and sending a phony press release was “a prank I thought I would play in the heat of the moment.

“I thought it was funny. I didn’t really think it would be taken seriously,” said Gibson, a 27-year-old self-described journalist living in Concord who says he writes about political corruption.

The email, sent to reporters about 3:30 p.m., Thursday, landed five days before a special election for state representative for the towns of Candia, Deerfield, Northwood and Nottingham. It purported to be from Yvonne Dean-Bailey, the 19-year-old Republican in the race, saying she was conceding the race so she could focus on her studies.

It prompted Manchester attorney Ed Mosca, who didn’t know about Gibson, to file an election law complaint with the state attorney general’s office yesterday, saying the email was designed to suppress Republican voter turnout.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen LaBonte said his department was “looking into it” but declined to discuss how long an investigation might take or what penalties an offender might face.

The state’s Republican Party intends to file its own complaint Monday with information about Gibson, said spokesman Ryan Williams.

Gibson said in a phone interview yesterday that a month ago he volunteered for Mann’s campaign, operating her Twitter account “for probably a week or so” until she changed the password on him. He said he “tried to lead her left” and “she didn’t like the things I was doing.”

“We left on kind of bad terms. I haven’t talked to her in about a month and a half or so,” he said, adding he doesn’t like either candidate in the special election for Rockingham County’s 32nd district and “if they could both lose that’d be great.”

Gibson said he didn’t know his name would be included in the electronic data of the Microsoft Word document he attached to his email.

From the minute she heard about the email, Mann said she welcomed an investigation by the attorney general, calling it “absolutely reprehensible for somebody to interfere with an election.”

Mann was devastated while learning Gibson’s comments. She said Gibson was friends with her friend’s son and asked to volunteer on the campaign.

For Republicans, Gibson’s rocky departure from Mann’s campaign didn’t weaken their feelings. Party chairwoman Jennifer Horn said the email was “an extremely serious violation of election law,” and tried to link it back to Mann.

“The fact that Maureen Mann trusted a radical extremist who engages in illegal campaign activity to work on her race speaks volumes about her and her candidacy. Mr. Gibson’s deplorable attempt to spread misinformation was clearly designed to help Maureen Mann and disenfranchise Yvonne Dean-Bailey’s supporters,” she said in a statement.

A statement from the Democratic Party said no one named Carl Gibson has any affiliation with the party and “if he’s responsible for this reprehensible act he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said the attorney general’s office handles campaign violations, but he felt intentionally misleading voters “to the point where it may cause someone to stay away from the polling place, that’s something that might be a little bit more serious than just regular campaign infractions,” such as communications that don’t identify the sender.

LaBonte said he couldn’t say whether any action could be taken by the attorney general’s office before the election Tuesday, and he declined “to reveal what our investigative techniques are at this point.”

This turn came during an unusually publicized special election in the first-in-the-nation state’s primary season, which included two endorsements for Dean-Bailey from potential candidates for president.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325 or nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @NickBReid.)


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