Chad Nesbitt: Paul Van Heden “took over my identity on a Twitter account”


(On the left is the real Chad Nesbitt. On the right is an image from the fake @chadnesbitt’s Twitter account.)

Former Buncombe County Republican chair Chad Nesbitt says his attorneys may soon contact Paul Van Heden; Nesbitt claims the Asheville resident ran a Twitter account, @chadnesbitt, that resulted in the U.S. Secret Service investigating possible threats against Pres. Bill Clinton last year.

Nesbitt has threatened legal action against the @chadnesbitt, but he identified Van Heden for the first time at the recent March 26 Buncombe County GOP convention. Incorrectly calling Heden “the transportation director for the City of Asheville,” Nesbitt told convention participants, “So while this bus driver is out here cutting peoples’ legs off [and] running people over, this guy [Heden] is on a Twitter account faking my identity and getting me in trouble with the Secret Service. … Be sure to write this down: My attorneys will be getting in touch with him shortly.”

Heden, who serves as the chair of the Transit Commission — a volunteer advisory board to the city’s public transit office — offers the following response to the accusations: “I’m surprised by these allegations and that any public figure would call attorneys over an obvious work of satire.”

In any case, the @chadnesbitt Twitter account ceased tweeting on Oct. 27, the operator announcing, “I will no longer Tweet from @chadnesbitt. I’m a simple person who doesn’t enjoy this kind of drama. If I wanted attention, I’d run for Chair of a political party.”

Nesbitt recently stepped down from his position as chair of the Buncombe GOP and was succeeded by Henry Mitchell.

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Jake Frankel is an award-winning writer and reporter who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

80 thoughts on “Chad Nesbitt: Paul Van Heden “took over my identity on a Twitter account”

  1. JWTJr

    I’m not fan of Chad, but if Paul broke the law and gets busted, he deserves it for such a ridiculously childish ploy. Satire … right.

    Nice move by a commission chair.

    Our modern politicians ability to discourse with one another is looking more and more like kindergarten class of spoiled children.

    We’re all screwed.

  2. There was no allegation of violation of criminal law. Nor could there be, really. This was an obvious satire and, as I’ve said before, I doubt seriously that even if the Secret Service interviewed Nesbitt about anything, that this twitter account was part of that.

    The Secret Service would locate the user of the specific account if they believed there was a threat there. They wouldn’t go to the object of the satire.

    Unless, of course, maybe they believed that Chad set up his own satire account in some kind of false-flag, attention-whoring attempt to stir up some controversy.

    But he wouldn’t do that, right?

  3. sharpleycladd

    I believe the predicate – Chas Nedbitt has earned our respect – has not been sufficiently established.

  4. bill smith

    [i]And just by lawyering up shows once more why he’s the biggest laughingstock of WNC.[/i]

    You mean ALLEGING he’s lawyering up. Is Jacoby and Myers really on retainer?

    Also, I thought Republicans hated lawyers?

  5. J

    Hunh, it appears that the sheriff’s office has a different take on the situation than Paul or Paul’s supporters. Hmmm, who to believe…Paul, or the Sheriff?:

    “It’s under investigation at this time and we’re doing the subpoenas to get the information to find out who’s actually logging the Twitter account and there may be a criminal charge there,” he [Van Duncan] said. “That depends on what our legal advice says. … If it gets into the area of harassment, then it could fall into the cyberstalking law. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/satirical_chadnesbitt_i_will_no_longer_tweet

  6. JWTJr

    Piffy – I just said ‘if’.

    Kind of like the Sheriff. That’s law enforcement in case you didn’t know. You know about law enforcement don’t you? They enforce the law. If laws are broken.

    My hope is that Paul has to really sweat this out for being so juvenile.

  7. tatuaje

    @JWTJr, what is it that you don’t understand about free speech?

    Seriously, this is NOT a case. Simple as that. These issues have been hammered out for a LONG time.

    Please take a moment to educate yourself.

    The First Amendment protects free speech. The fair use provision of the Copyright Act 17 USC 107 is designed to resolve the tension between the First Amendment, which protects free speech, and the Copyright Act, which is designed to abridge certain forms of speech (i.e., there is no right to make the speeches of others).

    § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40

    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —
    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

    Courts analyze the four factors bolded above to test whether a use of someone else’s copyrighted work is “fair use”.

    A definition of “parody” from Wikipedia:

    A parody (pronounced /?pær?di/; also called send-up, spoof or lampoon), in contemporary usage, is a work created to mock, comment on, or make fun at an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation. As the literary theorist Linda Hutcheon (2000: 7) puts it, “parody … is imitation, not always at the expense of the parodied text.” Another critic, Simon Dentith (2000: 9), defines parody as “any cultural practice which provides a relatively polemical allusive imitation of another cultural production or practice.” Often, the most satisfying element of a good parody is seeing others mistake it for the genuine article.

    Parody may be found in music, art or culture, including literature, music (although “parody” in music has an earlier, somewhat different meaning than for other art forms), animation, gaming and cinema.
    The writer and critic John Gross observes in his Oxford Book of Parodies, that parody seems to flourish on territory somewhere between pastiche (“a composition in another artist’s manner, without satirical intent”) and burlesque (which “fools around with the material of high literature and adapts it to low ends”). [1]

    Wikipedia’s definition of satire:

    Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement.[1] Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.

    A common feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm—”in satire, irony is militant”[2]—but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. This “militant” irony or sarcasm often professes to approve (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack.
    Satire is nowadays found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, and media such as lyrics.

    Chad Nesbitt is clearly as uninformed as you are.

  8. JWTJr

    tat – you guys hate Chad so much, it blinds your brain. I never said a crime was committed. In an earlier MX article, Van Duncan, the Sheriff, said that there may have been.

    You don’t like that, take it up with the Sheriff. I’m sure your wikipedia case will impress him.

    My point is that what Paul did was just as immature and counter productive as many of Chad’s pranks. They deserve each other.

  9. tatuaje

    I’m not fan of Chad, but if Paul broke the law and gets busted, he deserves it for such a ridiculously childish ploy. Satire … right.

    You seemed to be unclear about whether or not a law was broken.

  10. JWTJr

    You guys are funny. Chad derangement syndrome has taken over. Don’t let it consume you. Its not healthy.

    Take it up with the Sheriff if you don’t like it. What’s so hard about that? He made the statement, not me. If no law was broken, so be it.

    Maybe the only punishment Van Heden will get is egg on face. Fine with me. He and Chad have plenty to share.

  11. tatuaje

    What’s funny is that JWTJr keeps slandering Van Heden with his only proof being that Nesbitt declared it so.

    No other reason than Nesbitt said it. I can’t think of a worse foundation upon which to build an argument.

  12. JWTJr

    What say you tat? Was the Sheriff misquoted?

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2010/satirical_chadnesbitt_i_will_no_longer_tweet

    Although the Secret Service declined to comment on the alleged interview with Chad Nesbitt and security concerns ahead of the Clinton rally, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan confirmed to “Xpress on Oct. 25 that his office was investigating possible criminal issues involved with the satirical account.

    “It’s under investigation at this time and we’re doing the subpoenas to get the information to find out who’s actually logging the Twitter account and there may be a criminal charge there,” he said. “That depends on what our legal advice says. … If it gets into the area of harassment, then it could fall into the cyberstalking law. So that’s what we’re trying to figure out.””

  13. tatuaje

    Doesn’t matter what Van Duncan was quoted as saying my friend.

    This EXACT scenario has been played out in the courts already.

    No case.

    What proof do you have, besides Nesbitt saying it is so, that Van Heden was behind the account?

    Do you understand that libel IS against the law?

  14. JWTJr

    Say what you want tat. You hate Chad with all your heart. I understand that. You’re twisting what I’m saying so you can wallow in that hate. Bathe and bask in it. Its not healthy.

  15. tatuaje

    He also said:

    My point is that what Paul did was just as immature and counter productive as many of Chad’s pranks

  16. tatuaje

    Say what you want tat. You hate Chad with all your heart. I understand that. You’re twisting what I’m saying so you can wallow in that hate. Bathe and bask in it. Its not healthy.

    Seriously?

    I think this is the worst rebuttal I’ve heard since 5th grade debate.

  17. JWTJr

    “Does anybody take Chad seriously enough to hate him? I find that far-fetched.”

    The number of people who come unglued on this site every time Chad gets on here signifies that a lot of people really don’t like him. Given the past comments about him, hate is hardly a overly strong word.

    I’ll step back a moment. If Paul didn’t do it … his response didn’t deny it … fine. Chad should pay for falsely accusing him.

    I’m sure MX will follow up.

  18. tatuaje

    I don’t know a single person that hates Nesbitt, but I know many that find him laughable.

    Ridicule is not synonymous with hate.

  19. I don’t know a single person that hates Nesbitt, but I know many that find him laughable.

    Ridicule is not synonymous with hate.

    I don’t hate Chad, but am irked by his antics. Because of them, I feel that the Republicans lost a few key races last year that were winnable. Some that we needed to see Republicans win.

    I still say he was the best gift the Democrats ever had.

  20. Hate is a mighty strong word.

    Chad’s “leadership” as Chair of BCGOP, simply did BCGOP no good….and ran off many more moderate Republicans. So therefore many who have observed the antics he choose, simply shake our heads in disbelief at the grossly tone deaf, attention seeking methods he choose.

    No hate, just disbelief.

  21. So five months ago the sheriff said he was investigating and getting subpoenas to find out who the perp was after the district attorney had already told Chad to bugg off. Meanwhile the Secret Service, Keystone Cops the lot of them, accidentally visited the real Chad Nesbitt not the fake one. So some agency in the federal government, say the NSA perhaps, was listening in on twitter chatter in Asheville and didn’t have the tech savvy or analysis skills to discern who the real perp was and gave the SS the wrong information resulting in the poor Chadster being all stressed.

    Now five months later, the sheriff is out, the district attorney is absent, the SS won’t comment on national security and state secrets grounds most likely and the Chad has retained a private attorney and issued a statement explaining the matter. The perp has been put on notice. Scary.

    Do we really have all the facts here? Could it be with the recent loss of his chairmanship that someone is really missing the limelight?

  22. I only vaguely remember: Did the Secret Service confirm or deny any part of the story that they visited Nesbitt?

    Again, did any member of any media outlet in the area bother to ask that question at all? Did they ask other past or present Party officials if a chat with the Secret Service occurs before a President visits the area? Surely there would have been a visit before candidate Obama’s rally in Asheville (aren’t candidates afforded protection?)

    I, too, have serious difficulty in believing that the Secret Service would fail to actually find and follow up on an account that made threats against the President. I think twitter would have no objection in releasing that sort of information.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Some that we needed to see Republicans win.

    I’ve never seen such a thing, but that’s another matter.

  24. bill smith

    [b]“… took over my identity on a Twitter account”[/b]

    How does chad understand the idea of ‘identity’? Does he think he has the name chad nesbitt copyrighted? This person clearly had no intention of trying to convince anyone he was actually chad nesbitt.

    It would appear this whole thing is just more free publicity for Chad, as the stories about the Secret Service and the claims from the police sound flimsy at best. Chad gets his name out there, and gets to play to his base as the victim of liberal intolerance. It’s interesting how similar the whole template is to Ms. Palin.

    [b]I don’t hate Chad, but am irked by his antics. Because of them, I feel that the Republicans lost a few key races last year that were winnable.[/b]

    Some might argue that was intentional, as the Republicans seem to more comfortable pretending to be the political outsiders than in an actual position of leadership. Which again seems to mirror Palin’s role.

  25. JWTJr

    “Some that we needed to see Republicans win.

    I’ve never seen such a thing, but that’s another matter.”

    Yes Ken, one party knows everything about everything. I’m sure that’s fine with you as long as you’re a member of that party.

    One Party Rule!!!

  26. Margaret Williams

    @Mat we did ask the Secret Service. They were secretive.

    Now everybody take a deep breath. The tenor here’s getting a touch personal.

  27. Ken Hanke

    Yes Ken, one party knows everything about everything.

    Oh, my, no. I’ve just never seen a Republican candidate I could in all good conscience vote for.

  28. bill smith

    [i]Now we have a Sarah Palin reference.[/i]

    Well, to be fair, it was quite apt and on topic. I would think Nesbitt would appreciate the comparison.

  29. Ashevegasjoe

    So, the claim is that the S.S. investigated Chad because of something his impersonator did on-line. I found a rudimentary search turned up Mr. Nesbitt’s publicized protest of Obama’s visit. It seems to me that if the Secret Service didn’t look into highly publicized protestors of the President, they would not be doing their jobs.

  30. Ashevegasjoe

    I would say the level of discourse around the time of the President’s visit constituted a real threat. When you have people calling on their 2nd amendment rights and carrying guns to rallies, its more than dissent. That people like Chad chose to be the megaphone for said groups, certainly makes him worth at least talking to. I’m all for dissent, but in a non-violent, peaceful manner.

  31. Again, no one has managed to concretely prove that A) the Secret Service interviewed The Chad or B) that assuming the interview took place that it dealt with The Chad’s satirical counterpart.

    Even then, there’s a difference between the expression of dissent (which you mentioned first) and valid threats against the life of a President. I am not sure that anything on The Satirical Chad’s twitter feed constituted any sort of threat.

  32. 50cal

    The ridicule of Chad Nesbitt with patch over his eye in the photo demonstrates the bias of the MX. Just who is the offender here? Chad or Van Heden? Looks like the MX decided to portray Chad in negative light of ridicule. Why was Van Heden’s photo not published along side Chads? Ahhh the hypocrisy of the Left.

    Stealing someones identity is a crime. And I bet if the FBI and Secret Service had called you defenders of Van Heden in for questioning, it wouldn’t have been so funny, would it? I think the parody and satire would escape you if that had happened to you.

    What about do unto others? … guess that can be ignored when your hatred is so overpowering that you feel you have the moral right to steal your opponents identity and demean him. In other words, the ends justifies the means. But it’s all in parody and satire, right?

  33. 50cal

    @mat catastrophe

    Being insulting is the last gasp in the vain search for an intelligent argument. Typical Leftist hypocrisy in defending the indefensible. But as I said, for the Left, the ends justifies the means.

  34. bill smith

    Just admit it, mat. He’s got us. Our inextinguishable hatred for Nesbit burns in our cold, atheist, socialistic hearts.

    We chant his name in our Wiccan power circle, when we pray to our false idols, hoping ill will against his tattoos. I can’t take the charade any more. I must speak out!

    Chad Nesbitt’s unending legacy frightens me, because I can see that he represents REAL America, and the end of the liberal socialist reign of terror in this country that us hateful liberal types have forced upon the silent majority for too long now.

    Truly, he is a conservative God among men, and being a liberal I hate God.

  35. Sigh. Why do I bother with you people?

    First off, the Xpress has not shown any bias against The Chad with the publication of the above image. It is not an image created by the Xpress. It is an image of The Chad that was altered by the person or persons who opened the satirical Twitter feed. It has been the iconic image of the saga as it unfolded over the last few months.

    It’s interesting that you feel this is what portrays The Chad in a negative light. If anything, the Xpress has given The Chad free reign for months over what has been published about this whole affair.

    They published, virtually without question, his assertion that A) the Secret Service visited him prior to the visit by former President Clinton and B) that the visit was specifically about the Fake Chad. The best they could muster was a shaky “No Comment” from the Secret Service. To my knowledge, they contacted no other past or present Chairs of either party in the area to find out if it was possible that this visit was more in line with Standard Operating Procedure when a past or sitting President visits an area.

    And with this story, they have allowed The Chad the opportunity to, unchallenged by any questions or verification, to assert that Mr. Van Heden was the person who took to Twitter as Fake Chad. Posting an image of Van Heden based on that alone would open up the Xpress to a libel suit, as Van Heden has not (to my knowledge) been officially named as the Fake Chad, nor has he been charged in criminal or civil court with any violation of the law in regard the same.

    Yes, stealing an identity is a crime. However, a satirical Twitter account is hardly identity theft. I’m pretty sure Fake Chad didn’t use The Chad’s MasterCard number to order the eye patch, after all. I do not think any court would find that a person of reasonable mental faculties would be convinced that Fake Chad was The Chad.

    Now, my status as a private individual would afford me a certain measure of protection against this sort of satire. My burden of proof in a libel suit would be far lower than that of The Chad, as I have never sought nor held public office in any capacity, nor do I posit myself as the leader of any group of citizens in the way that The Chad does.

    And, all things being equal, I would like to think that if I were in The Chad’s shoes that I might be able to assess the situation and respond to it as an adult and not simply use it as another springboard to promote myself unchallenged in the local media by making grandiose and largely unsubstantiated claims.

    Now, as to insulting you, I find it amusing that you would take offense and make the standard internet complaint of “last gasp in the vain search for an intelligent argument” when you yourself have managed to show a complete lack of knowledge of the topic at hand. I could chalk that up to either ignorance or malice and I honestly don’t think either one of those options affords you much room to complain.

    Now, if you wish to talk about “defending the indefensible” then perhaps you should start checking into how the issues of libel, identity theft, and public persons all factor into this sordid little tale and decide who, if anyone, has actually been injured in any tangible way by all of this.

  36. 50cal

    Ohhh! I’m flattered … a whole thesis on my account. Must have touched a nerve. LOL!

    Questioning the truthfulness of what happened is really lame … Chad would not have known who stole his identity if law enforcement hadn’t called him in about the posts on twitter…. and was told they were investigating the identity of the real culprit.

    Once again I point out … it wouldn’t have been such an innocent parody and satire if it’d happened to you, would it? But then Leftists are noted for their hypocrisy concerning tolerance, inclusion and defending the most egregious double standards of behavior. And we see a prime example of that conduct in the posts on this thread.

  37. 50cal

    Yes I read it … and? My question still stands without reply.

    And as to the,(chuckle) “standard internet comment of,“last gasp in the vain search for an intelligent argument” … Actually that’s my own rendition, which I thought was very appropriate … internet or not.

  38. bill smith

    [b]Once again I point out … it wouldn’t have been such an innocent parody and satire if it’d happened to you, would it?[/b]

    You keep saying this. But you saying it doesn’t make it true, or relevant.

  39. bill smith

    [i]This is the way of the right.[/i]

    And the Left.

    On topic: Does this mean Chad Nesbitt can’t take a very, very gentle ribbing? Why does the entire right wing have no sense of humor?

  40. [b]Why does the entire right wing have no sense of humor?[/b]

    Because Bin Laden! Terror! Freedom! Stem Cells! Hollywood! Fair Tax! Welfare Queens On Welfare Having State Sponsored Abortions In Public Housing And Breeding An Army! New World Order! 9/11! The Birth Certificate! Socialism! Queers!

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