Elections

Republican Party claims Idaho candidate’s staffer is secretly an internet troll

Lieutenant governor candidates Democrat Kristin Collum, left, and Republican Janice McGeachin at an Oct. 17 Idaho Public Television debate.
Lieutenant governor candidates Democrat Kristin Collum, left, and Republican Janice McGeachin at an Oct. 17 Idaho Public Television debate. Idaho Public Television

In the last days before the Nov. 6 election, the Idaho Republican Party has accused the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of encouraging and harboring an internet troll.

Kristin Collum told the Statesman that GOP claims that one of her campaign volunteers is also a troll using the name “Patch Eudor” are false. Collum’s opponent, Republican Janice McGeachin, does not appear to have spoken publicly on the claims despite being a focus of the troll’s efforts.

On Tuesday, a state party news release sought to link Eudor to volunteer Jerry Decime, whom Collum said is her chief security officer. The release said Eudor has been targeting McGeachin — among other things, posting images attempting to connect her to white nationalists.

“Patch Eudor has been harassing and posting photos, manipulated images and screeds about McGeachin on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and elsewhere online,” the news release stated. “Eudor’s posts and comments indicate fervent support for Collum. His behavior ranges from crude and misogynistic to near defamatory.”

As evidence, the state party presented photos posted by Eudor that featured someone who looks like Decime, as well as shared work and personal interests listed online for each person.

Collum said she asked Decime if he operated any online aliases making the social media posts directed at McGeachin.

“He said he is not,” she said, though “they appear to run in similar circles.”

Collum later issued a public statement:

“Yesterday the Idaho GOP accused one of my volunteers of being mean to my opponent on social media. While these claims are of questionable accuracy or seriousness, I’d like to believe that Janice McGeachin and I are both willing to call on our supporters to be more civil. I certainly believe that this campaign should be about the issues facing Idaho and which candidate is better suited to the task, not what our supporters post online.”

Collum did not mention Decime in the news release or deny his involvement, which the Idaho Republican Party quickly pointed out.

“In six paragraphs, not once did Kristin Collum address whether her Chief Security Officer Jerry Decime is Patch Eudor,” said Idaho GOP communications director Mary Strow in a Wednesday news release. “There is ample evidence that Decime either is or is at least very closely tied to him. This is not a frivolous question. This goes to the heart of her judgment and the kind of people she would hire or rely on as a potential elected official.”

Meanwhile, the Idaho Democratic Party criticized the claims and said the GOP “is panicking” ahead of the election.

“Their attacks have led to the personal harassment of a volunteer and their family members,” a Wednesday Democratic press release stated. “We find this kind of behavior disgusting and reprehensible. Other volunteers have reached out to us in fear that their personal life and information will be picked apart and published online by the Idaho GOP. This is a chilling of free speech.

Collum told the Statesman on Thursday she stands by her statement that Decime is not Eudor, and she has no further comment.

As of Saturday, Eudor’s Facebook account could no longer be accessed, and a previously public Twitter account with that name had been made private.

Cynthia Sewell is the Statesman’s political investigative reporter. Contact her at (208) 377-6428, csewell@idahostatesman.com or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.
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