Rep. Walker’s of­fice re­ports tweets, trig­ger­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Stay Connected - BY BRIAN MUR­PHY bmur­[email protected]­clatchydc.com Brian Mur­phy: 202.383.6089; Twit­ter: @Mur­phinDC

A low-pro­file race in North Carolina’s 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict has turned nasty on so­cial me­dia, lead­ing to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a chal­lenger’s vo­cal sup­porter.

Re­pub­li­can Rep. Mark Walker, chair­man of the pow­er­ful Re­pub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee in the U.S. House, posted a Face­book mes­sage to hit back at false al­le­ga­tions he said have been cir­cu­lated by Demo­cratic chal­lenger Ryan Watts and one of his most ar­dent sup­port­ers on Twit­ter.

Walker’s staff also re­ported the Twit­ter user to U.S. Capi­tol Po­lice.

“Af­ter a num­ber of threat­en­ing mes­sages, in­clud­ing bomb­ing ref­er­ences, men­tions of Walker and his fam­ily, and at­tempts to lo­cate the school his daugh­ter at­tends, our staff sent the mes­sage con­tents to the Capi­tol Po­lice,” Jack Mi­nor, Walker’s cam­paign spokesman, said in a text mes­sage. “Capi­tol Po­lice de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate the threat.”

Sev­eral peo­ple, in­clud­ing House Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scalise, were in­jured in a June 2017 shoot­ing in Alexan­dria, Va., while House Re­pub­li­cans prac­ticed for the con­gres­sional base­ball game. Walker was at the prac­tice ear­lier in the day, but had left be­fore the shoot­ing.

An­drew Cabac­cang, who is from Raleigh but is cur­rently liv­ing in Mon­tana, said in a phone in­ter­view with McClatchy that it’s his Twit­ter ac­count and that he was vis­ited by the San­ders County (Mont.) Sher­iff’s Of­fice on be­half of the FBI on Sept. 19.

Mi­nor said the Capi­tol Po­lice told the con­gress­man’s of­fice that it had lo­cated and con­tacted Cabac­cang. Calls to Capi­tol Po­lice and the San­ders County Sher­iff’s Of­fice were not re­turned.

Cabac­cang tweets of­ten about his sup­port for the Watts cam­paign and uses an image of Watts as his Twit­ter back­ground image.

He has used the “bomb” emoji in some tweets. In one tweet, he sought out in­for­ma­tion on where Walker’s daugh­ter at­tended school, ask­ing if it was a pub­lic or pri­vate school.

He called the po­lice re­port an “abuse of power” by Walker.

“It’s just petty, petty, petty. I know I didn’t do any­thing wrong,” said Cabac­cang, who asked why Walker wouldn’t first re­port him to Twit­ter or block or mute him on the plat­form rather than call the au­thor­i­ties.

‘LIES, AL­LE­GA­TIONS AND FOUL LAN­GUAGE’

Cabac­cang said he wanted to help a Demo­cratic can­di­date af­ter the

2016 elec­tion and chose Watts af­ter look­ing at his plat­form. He said he’s try­ing to “goad” Walker to agree to a de­bate with Watts.

In some tweets, he has hinted that Walker, who is mar­ried and has three chil­dren, is in­volved in an af­fair with an­other man. Walker de­cided he had to re­spond.

“The lies, al­le­ga­tions and foul lan­guage be­ing spread by my op­po­nent and his self-pro­claimed ‘wing­man’ have forced me to en­gage,” Walker wrote in his Face­book post, which in­cluded screen shots.

In a phone in­ter­view, Watts de­nied that his cam­paign has done any­thing like that and said he has re­frained from any at­tacks on Walker as a per­son or his fam­ily. He said his cam­paign sent one in­ap­pro­pri­ate tweet be­cause of a typo, mean­ing to call Walker “an empty suit,” but in­stead called Walker “an empty s--t.” The tweet was even­tu­ally deleted.

Watts said Walker was try­ing to lump his cam­paign to­gether with tweets from a Twit­ter user he does not know. Watts said Tues­day that he does not know Cabac­cang’s last name. Watts said he has com­mu­ni­cated with him only through Twit­ter and that he has asked him to take down some posts about Walker. Cabac­cang said he has never met Watts and has only com­mu­ni­cated elec­tron­i­cally with him. He said Watts has turned down some of­fers of help.

Cabac­cang tweets un­der the han­dle @all­capst­weetx. His pro­file says he is a “HUGE FAN OF RYAN WATTS. NOT ON CAM­PAIGN STAFF OR PAY­ROLL.”

“The truth will al­ways come out. And given the @FBI has al­ready paid me a visit, I HAVE ZERO TO LOSE,” Cabac­cang said in a tweet about Walker’s re­sponse.

Watts said the Walker cam­paign was “throw­ing our cam­paign un­der the bus even though there’s no merit to it. I’m not sur­prised Walker and his cam­paign would stoop to this level, and we’re try­ing to rise above it.”

But Walker’s cam­paign said that Watts has el­e­vated Cabac­cang by the sheer num­ber of retweets it has given him. In an in­ter­view with Mil­len­nial Pol­i­tics Pod­cast, the host re­ferred to Cabac­cang as Watts’ “wing­man.” In a tweet, Watts said, “Drew is a very loyal fol­lower! I ap­pre­ci­ate his sup­port.”

Walker is seek­ing his third term rep­re­sent­ing the 6th Dis­trict, which in­cludes most of Guilford County and all of Ala­mance, Caswell, Chatham, Lee, Per­son, Ran­dolph and Rock­ing­ham coun­ties. Watts, 28, is a grad­u­ate of East Chapel Hill High and UNC-Chapel Hill. He lives in Burling­ton and works for Deloitte.

Walker won the dis­trict in 2016 with 59.2 per­cent of the vote. Though sev­eral GOP-held dis­tricts in North Carolina are con­sid­ered pos­si­ble pick-ups for Democrats, the 6th dis­trict has not been con­sid­ered one of those bat­tle­ground races by na­tional po­lit­i­cal pun­dits.

Mark Walker

Ryan Watts

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