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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scandal brewing? Fake Twitter account tied to RPOF



A fake Twitter account aimed at discrediting a prominent critic of state GOP leaders appears to have been linked back to a senior official at the Republican Party of Florida. Brevard County Republican Chairman Jason Steele says three months after discovering someone was tweeting inflammatory messages using his name and his picture, law enforcement investigators have determined the account was created on a computer in the home of Tim Nungesser, who last month was promoted to director of the party's field operations department.


"Tim Nungesser is no longer with the RPOF,'' party spokesman Katie Gordon Betta said in an e-mail yesterday.

Buzz is awaiting more response from the state party, but Steele says Nungesser told him the party's executive director, Delmar Johnson, had been long aware of the fake Twitter account and laughed it off. The party denies that.

"Tim is a young man who made a mistake. I don't want to see him prosecuted. I want to see Delmar Johnson and Jim Greer resign from the Republican party,'' said Steele, who was put on probation earlier this year for sending e-mails critical of party actions. "I am sick about this. This is not about me, It's about the Republican party of the state of Florida cleaning up its act and doing the right thing and getting back on a positive footing so people have confidence in the party again."

Steele said he has recently informed Gov. Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum about the matter, urging them to step in. "All of this deception and all of these dirty tricks have got to stop. I truly believe Charlie Crist, once he learns of all this stuff, will ask for the chairman's resignation."

The state GOP released a statement: "RPOF recently learned that several months ago an RPOF employee may have established and used a Twitter account under the name Jason Steele.  RPOF investigated the matter and determined that while the activity was done without the knowledge or approval of the RPOF or any RPOF employees and did not involve the use of RPOF computers, the activity is totally unacceptable.  We have taken all appropriate action and the employee has been terminated. This is a continuation of a long-standing political feud between those Brevard County individuals involved and is not in any way connected with the Republican Party of Florida."


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:26pm]


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