An anonymous sockpuppeteer has started a hate-filled blog pretending to be Trimet Union boss Jonathan Hunt. The Mercury was sent a link to the blog earlier this afternoon, which features numerous pictures of Hunt alongside posts like the following:
Perhaps the weirdest thing about the blog is the level of effort that has clearly gone into making it look plausibly believable. There's an extensive defense of free speech, for example. But when we called the Union to find out whether these posts indeed were Hunt's, we were told by the person answering the phone that they were a hoax, written by an ex union member "who is crazy, I believe."
"I've seen some of it, there seems to be new stuff appearing daily," says Hunt, reached on his cellphone in Seattle where he is attending a conference. "He's taking a lot of time and effort to make my life difficult. It appears that some of the stuff he takes from earlier press articles and news releases and then goes into all this crazy stuff."
Hunt believes the blog is being written by a former Trimet union staffer who was fired some years ago and is now believed to be living overseas. The blog is just part of the harassment, Hunt says.
"He's sent pizzas to my house, sent Taxis there at 1am, sent wakeup calls, locksmiths, someone towed my car from the union office saying 'Jon Hunt called and asked us to take it',' it's ridiculous," says Hunt.
Hunt says he is now working with the Portland police and attorneys to try to get the blog shut down. "Normally when we see members lash out we're not interested in going after them but this guy has crossed the line," he adds.
"Wordpress have not responded to any of our attorneys' phonecalls," Hunt continues. "I'm concerned for my staff is someone reads this and wants to come pay me a visit."
It turns out that the sockpuppet could ultimately face a libel suit.
"That is libel, because it's attributing written statements to somebody that you know are not true," says Portland civil rights and free speech attorney Benjamin Haile.
Haile's only caveats to his legal opinion are: 1.Truth—If Hunt did in fact hold these opinions—then he wouldn't necessarily have had to write the blog for it to be accurate. 2.Public Figure—If Hunt is a sufficiently "public figure to be exempt from libel laws. Haile didn't feel that Hunt was sufficiently public a figure, in this case.
"It sounds like flat-out harassment," Haile concludes.