Arizona School Superintendent Admits Making Anonymous Posts

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 12:09 PM

By Lisa Degnen

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Arizona state schools Superintendent John Huppenthal admitted Wednesday that he is an anonymous commenter making incendiary remarks on blogs, the Arizona Republic reported.

Using the names such as "Falcon9" and "Thucydides," the elected Republican official blamed the Great Depression on President Franklin D. Roosevelt, said FDR's economic policies gave rise to Adolph Hitler and that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger "fed 16 million African-Americans into the abortion mills." He also referred to"lazy pigs with food stamps" in one post.

Huppenthal has been commenting anonymously since 2011, according to the Republic.

"I love talking about public policy, and I have a passion for engaging in debate," Huppenthal told the Republic. "I probably have 300,000 words out on the Internet, and 100 of them are getting me in trouble. When all of your missteps are there all together for people to see, it's not a pretty picture."

He also issued a statement to the paper apologizing by saying, "I sincerely regret if my comments have offended anyone." Huppenthal is up for re-election.

Todd Gitlin, an ethics specialist and chairman of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, told the Republic: "Public officials should not post anonymously.” They’re elected to be accountable. They can't be held accountable if they hide behind pseudonyms."

But Huppenthal defended his right to make comments anonymously. "I felt that any other (approach) would limit a free and open exchange," he said in the statement to the Republic.

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