U.S. House Ethics Committee to examine congressional press secretary vandalizing Wikipedia articles with government computer
Sunday, August 19, 2007
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This news story originally broke as an article appearing within the August 11, 2007 edition of the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee) in which Hill first denied any personal involvement in the "blanking" vandalism of the Wikipedia articles David Davis (Tennessee politician) and Matthew Hill (Matthew Hill is a Representative within the Tennessee General Assembly and older brother of the press secretary) during a first interview with a KNS reporter. Hill later called back the KNS reporter for a second interview in which he reportedly admitted to using a government computer within the Washington, D.C. congressional office of U.S. Rep. David Davis to "edit" both the David Davis and Matthew Hill Wikipedia articles .
Hill repeatedly blanked six to eight paragraphs of reference text at each article pertaining to both U.S. Davis' and Tennessee Rep. Matthew Hill's political lobbying and/or campaign finance connections to Altace, Hoechst AGand former King Pharmaceuticals, Inc. CEO John M. Gregory. Hill's Wikipedia article edits were then linked through the article histories back to Rep. Davis's congressional office via an IP (internet protocol) number to the U.S. House of Representatives Information System.
Other interesting Wikipedia articles edited with the history detail revealing Rep. Davis Davis congressional office IP number (although not attributed to Hill) includes John Leslie (porn star) and sports professional Ray Jackson. The vandalism at the Jackson article was not directed toward the sports pro, but rather at a congressional staffer of the same name who is employed at the House Rules Committee.
The rules of the U.S. House Committee on Standards for Official Conduct (more popularly known as the U.S. House "Ethics Committee") oversees ethics education and conducts investigations of ethical matters pertaining to House members of the U.S. Congress and the members' congressional officers and staff members, including investigating within the scope of campaign activity:
- No campaign activities allowed in any congressional office or room (including district offices)
- No use of congressional office resources (including equipment, supplies, or files) for any campaign purpose
The scope of duties for a congressional press secretary is traditionally limited toward preparing internal documents within a congressional office (i.e.: "press releases") that are later disseminated to the news media outlets, writing up and producing newsletters to mail to the constituents back within the congressional district, and serving as a contact person within a congressional office for news reporters.
There is also an IP number indication that U.S. Rep. David Davis' congressional office has also been anonymously "shadowing" online blogs with at least one blog (The Tennessee Waltz) originating in East Tennessee with content that was critical toward Rep. Davis for his voting against the federal 2007 Animal Fighting Prohibition Act. The legislation passed this year without Davis' vote and was signed into law by U.S. President Bush.
- Michael Collins. "Lawmaker's office awaits panel's verdict on aide's act" — , August 15, 2007
- Editorial. "Hill gets caught in web of scandal" — , August 15, 2007
- Tom Humphrey. "Entries on Wikipedia edited by Davis aide:Press secretary also admits deleting info on brother via federal computer" — , August 11, 2007
- "The Editor". "Talk to me: Watching you watching me Part 2" — , August 8, 2007
- "The Editor". "Talk to me: Watching you watching me" — , August 6, 2007
- U.S. House Committee on Standards for Official Conduct. "Highlights of the House Ethics Rules" — , revised May, 2007