MARC CHASE: Smoking gun backfires in GOP social media 'scandal'

2014-03-27T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: Smoking gun backfires in GOP social media 'scandal'Marc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
March 27, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The smoking gun implicating a Winfield GOP precinct committeewoman in crimes against her party is finally revealed.

She was caught red-handed planning to vote in the May 6 primary. Of course she made that admission of preposterous intent by clicking a link on a Democrat's Facebook invitation, which is sheer treachery.

My Tuesday column took incumbent Winfield Township Trustee Roland Brauer to task for filing a frivolous complaint against his GOP primary political opponent Paulette Skinner, who also sits on the Winfield Town Council and serves as precinct committeewoman.

I noted Brauer was imploring that state and local party leaders boot Skinner from her precinct post because she "liked" a Democrat's post on Facebook.

But Brauer came to my office Tuesday in an effort to set me straight, so I feel it only fair to divulge what was said.

Brauer instructed me he filed the complaint — not because of what Skinner does or does not "like" on Facebook.

Rather, he said Skinner showed party disloyalty by indicating she was "going" to a Facebook event on the invitation of Democratic Winfield Township Board candidate Karen Smiley. On the Facebook invitation created by Smiley, Skinner indicated she was "going" to "vote" in the May 6 primary.

Apparently it's an act akin to Benedict Arnold to agree with an opposing party member that voting is a good thing.

Brauer is asking party leaders to strip Skinner of her precinct committeewoman status, noting it's her job to help elect Republicans, not Democrats.

During our conversation, I questioned whether Brauer realizes voters as a whole are getting tired of petty partisan politics getting in the way of civil discourse.

He said he understood the point.

But he remains adamant Skinner did something wrong here — something disloyal to her party and oath as a precinct leader.

So Brauer directed me to the actual Facebook event to which he took issue. For those unfamiliar with the web-based social media platform, Facebook users can create invitations to events — and then invite their Facebook friends to participate. Those friends then have the option of clicking "going," "maybe" or doing nothing at all to indicate their willingness to attend.

Think of it as an electronic RSVP. The GOP's Skinner clicked "going" on Democrat Smiley's invitation to show up and vote in the May 6 primary. That's the crux of this scandal.

Of course Smiley was encouraging her Facebook followers to vote for her. But those accepting her invitation to vote in the primary weren't putting themselves on the hook to do so.

For the record, Skinner said she'll use a Republican ballot May 6. Using a Democratic ballot would make it impossible to vote for herself.

Brauer is playing politics here, though he denies the complaint has anything to do with Skinner's recent criticism of Brauer's personal use of a township vehicle.

He said he parked the taxpayer-funded vehicle last week outside the Winfield government center to quell controversy. Brauer should have parked the frivolous complaint against Skinner along with it.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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