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.
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.