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Douglas denies sending anti-gay email

Keryl Douglas held a press conference Thursday afternoon to discuss the Willie Howard email, and she sent out this statement regarding the matter.

Let me begin by stating immediately and unequivocally that I did not write, nor cause to be written the letter allegedly penned by a Reverend Willie J. Howard on behalf of a group of ministers for Keryl. Neither did I have knowledge that such a letter was being written.

[…]

On or about Monday, April 9, 2012, this Willie Lynch style letter began to be widely distributed and was falsely blamed on or attributed to my campaign. Prior to this letter and responding e-mails being widely distributed by Carl Whitmarsh and/or others, I had absolutely no knowledge of such a letter, nor did I distribute or cause it to be distributed. From the onset, numerous libelous and slanderous statements have been made associating the letter with me or my campaign. Such conduct is not only malicious but actionable under the law. I urge everyone to immediately cease and desist from these false, libelous accusations against me and my campaign.

My immediate response after learning of the letter’s existence and the attempts by numerous persons to associate the letter with me or my campaign, was to immediately act to report the letter to law enforcement . I strongly believe that as it relates to fabricating this letter and its writer, creating an e-mail and possibly a P.O. Box for the purpose of falsely associating these to me or my campaign, if such conduct is not a crime, it should be. As a result of the distribution of this “Willie” letter, I have received hundreds of mean-spirited and accusatory, attacking e-mails which, at minimum, should qualify as cyber-bullying and harassment.

At no time in my campaign to date has there ever existed a group called Ministers for Keryl. This is a fabricated group just as I strongly assert that the letter is also a fabricated letter. I have absolutely no knowledge of having ever met a Willie J. Howard, let alone a Reverend by that name. It is my firm belief that Willie J. Howard does not exist. If he does exist, then I both challenge him to come forward AND I challenge “Team Whitmarsh” and other responders to the letter to produce this Willie J. Howard.

The letter, a copy of which accompanies my press advisory and statement, is not only an attack on me and my campaign, but also on Ministers, the Religious Community, and the African American Community in general. I strongly assert that it originated with neither of us, nor could or would serve either of us any benefit. I assert that the identification of the source of this letter would be identical to who gained the most from it being produced and distributed.

This letter was written and distributed as a despicably desperate attempt to distract or derail my substantive campaign on the issues, while at the same time intended to demean, disrespect and denigrate ministers and the religious community. The Church is a traditional pillar of the community which deserves respect and reverence. Even such a base, depraved attempt to compete with my campaign on the issues should not have also targeted the ministers. I believe that only those who are morally and ethically bankrupt could concoct and distribute such a letter, and especially to blame it on one or more ministers.

I cannot recall even once in my life when one or more ministers have expressed their views or concerns under the cloak of an alias or anonymity. A google search does not show the existence of a Reverend Willie J. Howard. In a search to determine the origin of the letter, the path actually grows cold for us at the forwarded e-mails of Carl Whitmarsh and an internet link where the letter can be accessed. It cannot ever be truthfully linked to any ministers I know of nor with the only e-mail and website established by me or my campaign. Whoever initiated, distributed and/or attributed to me this letter, lacks the affirmative defense of TRUTH in any potential civil litigation. This letter has or will be reported to all agencies that may be of assistance in determining its origin and holding accountable its originators.

The strategy of the incendiary and inflammatory letter of unknown origin is unfortunately not a new one. It was used in the Mayoral election in 2009, as well as prior mayoral elections. It has been used to incite defeat of other measures. It is not a new strategy, but it is definitely time that it becomes an unsuccessful and unacceptable strategy.

Let me assure you that neither I nor anyone representing or acting on behalf of my campaign wrote this letter; nor do we embrace or approve of the spirit and intent of it. I will continue to endeavor to include and work with ALL people from ALL walks of life across our myriad diverse communities. I will continue to focus my campaign on the critical issues our voters and our nation face, educating and empowering our voters on the Democratic platform, mobilizing and inspiring them to turnout to vote and protecting them from voter intimidation, suppression or civil rights violations as they exercise their right to vote.

I’m glad to hear Douglas disavow the “spirit and intent” of that email, but a key question remains unanswered. The Dallas Voice explains.

The above screen grab shows the yellow information window that pops up when you 'mouse over' a link at the bottom of an anti-gay email sent by 'Ministers for Keryl Douglas.' Based on this 'metadata,' the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleges the email was in fact sent by Douglas' campaign itself.

In a press release sent out [Monday] night in response to Howard’s letter, the Houston GLBT Political Caucus alleged that a digital analysis shows the email containing Howard’s letter was in fact sent by Douglas’ campaign itself, and not by “Ministers for Keryl Douglas.”

We contacted Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Caucus, to find out how the Caucus determined this. Freeman explained that electronic data, called “metadata,” is attached to every email. When you use an email client — such as iContact or Constant Contact, but in this case “MailChimp” — it attaches its own specific data.

“We examined the metadata on that email that was sent out and compared it to an official email from the Keryl Douglas campaign,” Freeman said. “They were identical. The metadata that was attached was identical, and it says Keryl Douglas campaign.”

Freeman directed us to “mouse over” a link at the bottom of the copy of Howard’s email that was forwarded to us. We confirmed that when you mouse over a link that says “Add us to your address book” at the bottom of the email, what pops up is a web address associated with Douglas’ campaign website. (See screen grab above.)

“You’d be amazed at how stupid people can be about this stuff,” Freeman said.

I can also confirm that a mouseover of the links in the “Ministers for Keryl” email that I received showed the link you see in that screenshot. That does not square with Douglas’ denials. I will reiterate what I said when I published my interview with Lane Lewis: Keryl, if you contact me with a time and place that are suitable for you, I will still do an interview with you. Obviously, I will ask about this. You know how to reach me.

Finally, from Patricia Kilday Hart, who unfortunately treats this as a he-said/she-said dispute instead of exhibiting any curiosity about whether the objective claim being made about the “Ministers for Keryl” email is, you know, factually correct or not:

As Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus explained it to me, the tags cannot be altered by users. “Any claim that this email did not come directly from the Keryl Douglas Campaign is a lie. The digital trail of evidence is indisputable.”

Douglas held a news conference Thursday not only disputing the allegations, but turning the tables. In her statement, Douglas, an attorney, asserted that “numerous libelous and slanderous statements have been made associating the letter with me or my campaign. Such conduct is not only malicious but actionable under the law.”

Like I said, you would think that the objective claim Freeman made, which logically implies that someone is not telling the truth here, would have piqued Hart’s interest. The Chron does have a couple of computer experts on staff in the event one would like an evaluation of such things. I’m just saying. Be that as it may, there was a political angle that did catch Hart’s eye:

This mystery has an interesting cast of characters: Michael Kubosh, who ran as a Democrat against Sen. Dan Patrick, attended Douglas’ press conference, as did Pastor James Nash.

Well-known for his activism – with his two brothers – to overturn Houston’s red-light camera ordinance, Kubosh told me that Nash’s support had been critical in winning that election. “We wouldn’t have won had it not been for Pastor Nash,” Kubosh said. If Nash was supporting Douglas, then so would the Kubosh brothers, he said. In recent years, they have been mostly known for their Republican ties.

I would think that if there’s one office a person might seek for which bipartisan credentials are not an asset it would be the chair of a county political party. I’m pretty sure that if I showed up at a Jared Woodfill press conference and expressed my support for his leadership that it would not be looked upon fondly by Republican primary voters. Putting everything else aside, I don’t see how this is helpful for Keryl Douglas.

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20 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    Not saying it’s not from the campaign, but that’s a crap way of detecting the source of an email. It’s just as likely that something in the body is the same because someone copied and pasted as that they used a campaign tool to send it.

    You need to backtrace all the IPs from the full headers to see where it came from.

    Send the full headers to me and I’ll tell you what I can about the email.

  2. Michael says:

    For instance, if my link was [a href=”http://www.republicansforvoldemort.com”]Democrats for Harry Potter[/a] (modified appropriately to be actual html), then the link would display “Democrats for Harry Potter” and the mouseover would display “http://www.republicansforvoldemort.com”.

    Anything in the body is suspect. The only sure thing is the IP that was used at the time by the machine that sent this email to a machine you trust. Everything else can be faked. Spammers and Scammers have perfected this. In the fake emails we all get allegedly from PayPal, some of the links are really to PayPal. It’s up to the author.

    What will be more interesting will be seeing if the chain in the headers is like the chain in headers that come from any other source.

    Either Freeman doesn’t know what he’s talking about or the Dallas Voice screwed the pooch by misquoting him.

  3. Paul Havlak says:

    Link metadata embedded at the end of an email are suggestive, but seems like they could be cut and pasted from another email. Better to compare the raw email wrappers, with their SMTP history.

  4. Michael and Paul,

    You make a good point. Here’s the email I received with full headers:

    http://offthekuff.com/blog/misc/Ministers%20For%20Keryl%20Email%20With%20Full%20Headers.txt

    What do you think?

  5. Greg Wythe says:

    So Keryl Douglas is the first African-American candidate for anything in the Houston area without a “Ministers for ____” group. That’s pretty amazing, right there.

  6. joshua bullard says:

    i met lane lewis,in person,i spoke with him in length,its my assertion that he is simply not qaulified for the job,heres why,he is way to inexperienced,he came across kind of aggressive and overly abrasive,he was pushy with me,i cant stand the fact that he in tentially takes photo’s to make him self appear to be older when in fact when you meet him he looks realy really young,now then, here is how this plays out at the polls-you got 3 votes that both candidates are eyeing the most-a the gay vote-b- the white vote- c the black vote

    lane will dominate with the gay vote -the glbt will gather to the polls in large numbers

    kerl d will a mass a fortune in votes from the black vote in houston…….

    the rest will be a coin toss-if there is one thing noel freeman and kuffner would rather not have to admit is the fact that this race is going to be decided by hundreds of votes, not thousands………

    i cant go with lane lewis,not because hes not a nice guy,he is,he is just underqaulified for this position,i like kerl douglas for many reasons,but the main is she has the vision and the abilty the motivate the democratic party to levels a new,no matter who you are,take it from me joshua ben bullard,the best candidate for this position is Kerl Douglas…………………….

    damn right i said-and you should take it=joshua ben bullard

  7. voter says:

    Joshua, aren’t you Republican? You won’t even be voting in the Democratic primary, will you? Also, good heavens, have you taken a grammar class? Your complete lack of punctuation makes your entry difficult to read.

  8. Jj says:

    But will Keryl insist on camdidates having unusually spelled names? No more Charles-es. You have to switch to Kharelz.

  9. Noel Freeman says:

    I was at the press conference and during her statement, she claimed first that it did not come from her account, then she claimed someone hacked her account to send it out, then claimed Carl Whitmarsh was responsible for it. So at at least one point, she was acknowledging that it did come from her account, but asserted that someone had hacked into the account to send the email.

  10. Mainstream says:

    I just want to assure you, Charles, that you are welcome at any GOP political events you wish to attend. Because of your status as a quasi-journalist, you would not be viewed as an interloper, but then again your endorsement would not sway many voters. Now if Jolanda Jones or Jew Don Boney came and endorsed Jared, that would be the equivalent of Kubosh backing some Democrat.

  11. paul kubosh says:

    Mainstream…..we have had over 125,000 clients since 1993. The vast majority of them vote democrat. Also the vast majority are not wild eyed , tree hugging liberals. Finally not only did we publicly support Jolanda Jones we also supported her financially as a family. I couldn’t give financially but other family members did. Your comments while enjoyable are presumptuous. That being said keep on punching.

  12. paul kubosh says:

    The more I here of this stuff the more I believe it came from lane supporters. Only way he wins is if he energizes his base. Dirty politics but clever. Surely you don’t think that republicans have the market cornered on being dirty?

  13. Neil Aquino says:

    So Ms. Douglas might sue leading members of the local Democratic structure? This is how she will build bridges?—

    “Such conduct is not only malicious but actionable under the law. I urge everyone to immediately cease and desist from these false, libelous accusations against me and my campaign.”

    So the Locke campaign was framed as well?—

    “The strategy of the incendiary and inflammatory letter of unknown origin is unfortunately not a new one. It was used in the Mayoral election in 2009, as well as prior mayoral elections.”

    I see.

  14. paul kubosh says:

    I may have not been paying attention but wasn’t Dave Wilson doing the mailing in the locked campaign. The leading members of the local democrat structure might need to be sued. How long has it been since there has been a revolt in the democrat party?

  15. Neil Aquino says:

    I don’t have a rooting interest in this race. I don’t care if Lane Lewis is party chair or not. Carl Whitmarsh booted me off his spam-a-lot list years ago after a dispute he and I had. Noel Freeman and I don’t hang out.

    Also, I can’t know the origin of the e-mail letter that started all this trouble.

    And yet the tone of the letter from Ms. Douglas renders the question of where the initial letter came from as meaningless, in terms of the question of should Ms. Douglas serve as Democratic party chair.

    Or “Democrat” party chair to use the word that both Mr. Kubosh and former President G.W. Bush use to identify the Democratic Party.

    Ms. Douglas asserts a record as a civil rights champion, yet when people respond to the hurt of a public call–regardless of the origin of this call—to remove gay folks from positions of leadership in the party, the response is not an effort at healing and understanding. It is instead a threat of a lawsuit.

    Ms. Douglas also says this in her response letter—

    “The letter, a copy of which accompanies my press advisory and statement, is not only an attack on me and my campaign, but also on Ministers, the Religious Community, and the African American Community in general.”

    Ms. Douglas and her campaign represent “Ministers, the Religious Community, and the African American Community in general?” An attack on her is an attack on all that? How is this credible? If the spin is to make an attack on Ms. Douglas an attack on all these things, than how will a reasoned debate be possible?

    Here was a chance for Ms. Douglas to respond to a crisis with leadership, outreach, and optimism. She chose another course.

  16. […] response to my previous post about the homophobic “Ministers for Keryl” email, a couple of commenters said that we […]

  17. LookALittleDeeper says:

    <– Michael: You're absolutely right. Metadata means nothing and anyone who does IT would know that. Furthermore, most email-blaster services don't require you to authenticate that you own the websites you're associating with. And what is this 'Digital Analysis' this Freeman wunderkind is talking about? Now he does network forensics on the side? 'Digital Analysis' is a meaningless phrase, something out of a John Grisham novel.

    And anyone who thinks Ms. Douglas should have handled this any other way is holding her up to a higher standard than themselves. Most people would simply curl up in a ball after being publicly condemned as a bigoted hate-monger.

    Who is Rev. Howard? Where's his church? Why does he not know how to spell Brethren, or make more use of scripture other than a misquoting of Leviticus? Is it that this supposed Rev. just doesn't know that much scripture, other than one anti-gay passage? It seems to me that you find Rev. Howard, you figure out the truth.

  18. LookALittleDeeper says:

    <– Neil Aquino
    Um, what's the big deal if a Dem Chair threatens lawsuits? Isn't that Birnberg's MO as well? Not that that's a ringing endorsement!

  19. Athena says:

    Ah, the Kubosh brothers and their illiterate lower-case sidekick, Bullard. I’ve stepped in less offensive substances than what these Tea Party miscreants are made of. What are these sleaze-bags doing meddling in Democratic politics? And, what do they have to do with the Ministers for Keryl, and Christopher Neilsen emails?

    As for Joshua Bullard speaking to Lewis’ qualifications, I would suggest that he work on stringing together an intelligible or cohesive thought, and learn about grammar and punctuation. I don’t know about how long it has been since a revolt in the Democratic Party, but I do know that the foul presence of the Kubosh trolls et al is as revolting a situation as would occur in party politics. They are bilious blivets sewing the NOM seeds of rancor, discord and dissent. And, they are friends of neither the Democratic party or the democratic process.
    I think Dante would have spread them amongst the bolgias of the eighth circle.

  20. Athena says:

    Is “Michael” Felix Kubosh? Another one of the brood that needs to pull away from the trough but not wallow in the manure afterwards.

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