A name which you first read on this blog this morning, thanks to reader Joseph D, whom I quoted as saying:
The corresponding twitter account has one friend, Jerry Schaefer, from Long Beach, California (the same town as some of Ellie’s claimed residences.) Jerry’s facebook showed one friend named Winston, Winston Steward. Under Winston’s friends, Barbara Brooks claims to be his wife and that he is Ellie Light.
Looks like Joseph D. was spot on. Winston Steward is a Kos Kiddie — see one of his diaries here. (H/t SarahW, who has been sharp on this.)
And the first person he followed on Twitter is the president of a D.C. based public relations firm. An expert on outreach to Hispanic voters, who is writing a book chapter that will touch on Obama’s (and McCain’s) Latino outreach strategies.
As Allah says, it’s a little bit freaky and a whole lot deaky.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
Ellie Light, the ubiquitous letter writer whose name appeared in newspapers nationwide praising President Barack Obama, appears to really be a male health care worker from California.
A man who identified himself as Winston Steward, 51, of Frazier Park, Calif., says he made up the name “Ellie Light” to protect himself from criticism and possible physical attacks, and used fake addresses across the country to get local newspapers to publish his letters.
“I am Winston Steward and have been sending the letters from Ellie Light,” he told The Plain Dealer in an e-mail late Tuesday, following a phone interview in which he said the same. “I hope this ends any confusion and sets the record straight.”
Ellie Light aka Winston Steward
Oh, it’s crystal clear! This guy called Michael Smerconish and pretended to be a woman whose real name is Ellie Light. And has a geeky enough voice that he could pass for a woman. What could be clearer?
One interesting fact that ties into observations made by Dan Riehl over the weekend: the first friend on Winston’s Twitter account is the president of a Washington, D.C. public relations firm.
Ehhh, it’s probably nothing. But let’s toss it out there anyway.
It all started with a tip to Dan Riehl and me from LeftCoastRebel. Let me turn over the mike to Dan Riehl, who told us Sunday:
If information I’ve been given is correct, there is circumstantial evidence linking now infamous letter writer Ellie Light to an international public relations firm involved with the White House in helping to promote health care reform.
Left Coast Rebel made me aware of a comment left on his blog by someone claiming to be Ellie Light. The comment was left by someone using the screen name Winston44. In searching out that name, I found a Twitter account under it that has barely been used.
That account is here. It is definitely Winston Steward’s account. It’s not just the name Winston that cinches it. Looking at a list of who Winston44 follows on Twitter, we see that he follows the Chillicothe Gazette, and also jerryschaefer from Long Beach:
Now look at a list of Winston Steward’s Facebook friends. One is also Jerry Schaefer:
(By the way, Winston Steward claims to be from Frazier Park, CA. That’s near some of the papers Ellie Light wrote to. But, interestingly, Ellie Light signed some letters as being from Long Beach. Jerry Schaefer is from Long Beach. There is an Eleanor Light in Long Beach. And I know the area code of the phone number that Lileks used to call “Ellie Light” and it’s a Long Beach area code.)
Now here’s the kicker: Winston’s very first Twitter friend was a P.R. flack. Again, back to Dan Riehl:
The account has never tweeted and follows 18 individuals, with 9 following it. Given that we usually add people we know when we first open a Twitter account, I looked to see who the first individual was that Winston44 added. That would be Adam Segal.
Adam J. Segal, President, The 2050 Group, LLC + Named to PR Week’s 40 Under 40 for 2009.
His firm is The 2050 Group.
Here’s a shot from their Web site:
Is the 2050 Group connected to Obama? Dan found a link, albeit nothing that firm:
What [Segal] is, or was involved with is the National Alliance for Hispanic Health Care. And this press release puts them in the White House, Google shows them to be supportive of Obama, particularly his health care reform agenda – and the release also establishes Segal as the media contact.
This is hardly conclusive stuff at this point. Tonight I noticed this description of Segal at his firm’s Web site:
With a decade of public relations and marketing experience, Adam J. Segal has become one of the nation’s most accomplished young executives.
In his work for corporate, non-profit and political clients throughout the past decade, Adam has advised clients on, and developed, branding and advertising campaigns across a wide range of media formats including print, television, radio, Internet, and outdoor. His work has reached hundreds of millions of people across the United States and around the world.
Impressive. Why was he the first person that Winston Steward followed on Twitter? Moving on with the description of Segal:
Adam is a Faculty Lecturer in the Master’s of Arts in Communication program at Johns Hopkins University’s Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Advanced Academic Programs. He teaches two cutting-edge courses he designed:
• Internet Strategies: he has taught dozens of students how to change the way organizations think about the Internet and use emerging technology and tools to grow
. . . .
He founded and directs the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University. . . . And he is currently at work on a book chapter on the Hispanic voter outreach efforts of 2008 presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.
Now. I have no idea whether Segal knows Winston Steward. I don’t know everyone who follows me on Twitter. This could all be a total dead end. In fact, at this very moment, I’m inclined to say it is, and that Winston Steward is just a kook.
At this point we know only one thing: Winston Steward is a huge liar. Why is he lying? Because he fears threats from the right wing? (Which, as should be obvious, nobody should level.) Because he is hiding a connection to a P.R. firm? Because he has a screw loose? (Or several?) I have no idea.
But there’s no harm in throwing this all out there for you to peruse. That’s the idea of the open source method.
UPDATE: SarahW reminds of something she mentioned before, the significance of which was lost on me before: another of Winston’s 15 Facebook friends is named Ellie. And what does she do for a living?
President of a Washington, D.C. public relations firm.