Moffitt Twitter message sparks controversy *Updated*

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.”



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

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20 thoughts on “Moffitt Twitter message sparks controversy *Updated*

  1. tatuaje

    Interesting response.

    One thing just doesn’t make sense to me:

    Has Mr. Moffitt reported the ‘hack’ to Twitter and the authorities? They might very possibly trace the IP address of the computer that logged in when the message occurred.The only reason that I can think of that he wouldn’t report the incident is because he doesn’t WANT to find whomever tweeted the remark.

  2. mat catastrophe

    “nor do I make derogatory social comments with my Twitter handle.”

    But you totally make them to my friends and political donors.

    Words are important, Moffitt. You should take better care of your own and those that you pay for.

    • mat catastrophe

      Derp – weird edit error:

      “But you totally make them to *your* friends and political donors.”

  3. sharpleycladd

    This story’s been up for several hours, and no word from Tim Peck and Michael Muller. What’s up with that?

  4. D. Dial

    This needs to be reported to authorities. Since aspersions have been cast by Mr. Moffitt that maybe the opposition did this. This raises the bar from pre-pubescent mischief/pranksterism to defamation. It’s up to team Moffitt to clear this up. If it’s not reported, that just speaks volumes.

  5. mcates

    D. Dial,

    The progressives in Asheville have a history of this kind of behavior. Although it is clear from this comment and your past comments that you prefer to act as it isn’t happening and that somehow the person who is the subject of the attack is at fault. Doing so only encourages more of this behavior in our community!

    In last year

  6. D. Dial

    Did you report any of these attacks, Mr. Cates? Til l then this looks like a strawman to me.

    The only attack that made the news in the 2010 race was the one where an Eichembaum insider was impersonating his opponent Jeff Miller. I tend to put store in things that come out in the open, that is why I suggested that an investigation is in order.

    Jeff Miller twitter impersonator apologizes

  7. “Jeff Miller twitter impersonator apologizes”

    How likely is it that we’ll be reading about apologies for the stalking, thefts, vandalism, threats, impersonations, hackings and harassment targeting Tim Moffit, his property and his family?

  8. D. Dial

    Well if it’s reported and the perpetrator caught then we’d maybe get an apology. Harrassment and hacking are prosecutable…just sayin.

  9. Keith Thomson

    47% of the country who Republicans claim are victims includes Mark Cates and Tim Moffitt?

  10. tatuaje


    When Moffitt’s account sent out a spam message selling jewelry, his account wasn’t ‘hacked’.

    Basically how it works is that sketchy third-party apps sell your login info to spammers.

    Say for instance that you sign up for a service that tells you how many people have unfollowed you or use a service that gives your Twitter page a fancy background. To utilize these services you must login using your twitter username and password. Now these sketchy third-parties have all the info they need to send out spam.

    This is what happened to Moffitt.

    The tweet to ‘Lulu’ wasn’t a hack, merely a mistake thinking a text message was being sent.

    So in reality, Moffitt has only been (allegedly) ‘hacked’ once.

    And this ‘hack’ seems fairly silly. Why tweet THAT message? What does that gain for his opponents? And why instantly delete it?

    The SOP for hackers, once they’ve gained access to someone’s private account by brute forcing a password, is to CHANGE that password so that they have complete control of the account. Why didn’t the ‘hacker’ do that in this instance?

    This just all seems very fishy to me.

  11. Keith Thomson

    GOP claims to victimhood are rich. This would add Moffitt to the 47% that Mitt Romney claims will never take responsibility for themselves, wouldn’t it?

  12. zulu

    Good grief. If Moffitt hasn’t contacted Mark Harmon and the entire cast of NCIS about this, well…he must be hiding something! We demand evidence that authorities are on the case right this very minute!!!!!!

    I think Tim Moffitt is a poor excuse for a representative and loathe his actions as self-appointed “king” of Buncombe County. I hope that he is soundly defeated in November, even if it is by clueless Jane Whilden. At least she’ll be harmless.

    BUT… I don’t think Moffitt is so stupid as to tweet such a sophomoric message. His account was hacked, or else one of Asheville’s most notoriously immature political campaign managers made a drunken mistake. (My money is on door #2.)

  13. Margaret Williams

    Thanks for commenting, everyone, and for raising interesting points and questions. But please back things down a few notches and resist the urge to get personal and/or off-topic.

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