UPDATE (Sept. 25): Responding to an open records request from Xpress, the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Dept. provided a copy of the Incident/Investigation report documenting that a complaint was filed by Tim Moffitt and is being investigated. Download it here.
UPDATE: Rep. Tim Moffitt emailed Xpress the following statement at about 9:15 p.m. on the evening of Sept. 21:
“At least two of my computer accounts have been hijacked repeatedly. I have filed the appropriate reports with the appropriate agencies and leave the matter in their capable hands. My focus is squarely on the issues facing the people of my district and I don’t believe the status of my Twitter account is of much importance to people facing real problems.”
Here’s the original post, published at about 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 21:
On the evening of Sept. 19, Rep. Tim Moffitt’s Twitter account sent out a strange and offensive message; Moffitt says his account was hacked. Usually used to tout events, endorsements and other campaign news, the @TimMoffitt Twitter handle declared: “They should lock up all the gays on their own island. Except for the lesbians. Y’all can have them!”
The tweet was deleted few minutes later, but not before it caught the attention of many of the Buncombe County Republican’s 379 Twitter followers.
“Please accept my apologies,” Moffitt tweeted in response to questions concerning the message. “My account has been hacked once again.” In a follow-up tweet, he wrote, “Appropriate security measures will be taken.”
The freshman legislator’s Twitter account has seen other snafus recently. Several weeks ago, his account sent out an out-of-character message advertising jewelry, which he blamed on hacking. And last month, he inadvertently sent out what was meant to be a private message to his son, creating some confusion. At a forum the next day, Moffitt explained what had happened and subsequently posted the video to his Facebook site. At the time, Moffitt said he and his sons administered his Twitter account.
In the wake of the Sept. 19 incident, Moffitt implied that the tweet was the result of efforts by his political enemies to discredit him. “In regards to my Twitter account being hacked and used without my authorization once again, it’s just the nature of politics in Buncombe County,” the candidate, who’s seeking re-election in Statehouse District 116 in November, told Xpress. “Being a conservative in Buncombe County is not the easiest task that anyone running for office could have. But in regards to the hacking itself, I don’t sell purses, I don’t sell jewelry, nor do I make derogatory social comments with my Twitter handle.”
Since then, however, speculation has run rampant on Twitter over who might have been responsible for the offensive message and what specific steps might be taken to beef up cyber security and avoid a repeat. But Moffitt declined to answer any further questions concerning the matter.
Moffitt’s Democratic opponent, Jane Whilden, said she had no idea who might’ve been behind the incident. “I had nothing to do with it. I don’t know how to tweet, and I don’t want to,” she said, noting that her campaign manager administers her Twitter account. “I’m a face-to-face person.”
As for the message itself, she continued, “It was inappropriate, it was horrible, it was wrong.”