Colorado Gov. Bill Owens is warning state employees that they would be subject to disciplinary action if they use state computers to post comments on political Web sites.
The directive came after the Rocky Mountain News informed the governor that anonymous and sometimes caustic postings from someone using the nickname “Real Deal” had been traced to a computer in the governor’s office, which has more than 100 computers.
“Real Deal” has taken potshots at Republican “flunkies” and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo.
The user called former GOP congressman Bob Schaffer a “weisel” (sic) and Democratic state Rep. Angie Paccione “that crazy woman.”
The News this week asked the governor’s office about “Real Deal’s” identity and other possible blog posters using state computers. Mark Salley, the governor’s spokesman, said the state doesn’t know who the blog poster is or whether it is just one person.
“While we can verify that executive office and legislative office computers were used to post comments to (ColoradoPols.com), we can’t determine which computers were used,” Salley said. “The governor believes such use is not appropriate.”
Bob Lee, the governor’s chief of staff, issued the following directive: “It has become apparent that Executive and Legislative computers have been used to post commentary on political web logs. Today, the governor ordered that we develop new policy prohibiting the use of government computers from being used to post to any such sites. Please make certain that all members of your respective staffs are notified that this policy is effective immediately.”
The ColoradoPols.com Web site has been a must-read for politicos since it went online at the beginning of the year. Those posting to the site thought their identities were anonymous.
But late last month, state Republican Party officials sounded the alarm that someone had created a database purportedly linking postings to computers where the messages originated.
Republicans initially blamed Democrats, but two GOP operatives, Laura Teal and Andy George, admitted to compiling the data after Teal was granted special password access to the blog as a regular contributor nicknamed “Red Hawk.”
Teal and George had previously worked together on Schaffer’s unsuccessful Senate campaign.
George said he was motivated to unmask the blog users after some, including the poster nicknamed “Real Deal,” criticized him and his friends.
“Real Deal” was particularly active in April and May, according to the database.
In one posting, “Real Deal” criticized Schaffer’s Senate campaign staff.
“As far as his staff goes, I personally find them to be a joke,” “Real Deal” wrote. “They got in way over their heads … and they didn’t have a clue what real campaigning is all about.”
“Real Deal” also accused Schaffer of not doing enough to help Pete Coors beat Salazar after Coors won the GOP primary.
Asked about the postings, Schaffer let out a long laugh and then said he didn’t really have a comment.
(Contact Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News at http://www.rockymountainnews.com.)