Patterico's Pontifications


Ellie Light Is Winston Steward — His First Follow on Twitter: the President of a D.C. Public Relations Firm

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 pm

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:

Jerry Schaefer 1

Now look at a list of Winston Steward’s Facebook friends. One is also Jerry Schaefer:

Jerry Schaefer 2

(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:

Adam Segal

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.

41 Responses to “Ellie Light Is Winston Steward — His First Follow on Twitter: the President of a D.C. Public Relations Firm”

  1. This looks like the beginning of a prima facie case that “Ellie Light” is a real astroturf through an Obama-associated flack.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  2. SPQR:

    I don’t see it that way, honestly. But who knows.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  3. I appreciate that you are not overselling it.

    But I think the inferences are there.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  4. Eleanor Light is a very uncommon name.

    He said he was from Long Beach, where one happens to be, and explained that he did this to avoid physical reprisals and tons of attention.

    Did he do target this actual Ellie Light, or did he just not care? I know it’s kinda stupid to think someone’s going to hurt you over letters to an editor, but just the press attention from this has to be a hassle. Why didn’t he just pick on someone who didn’t exist?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  5. one mystery solved.

    but a more interesting one remains. something worthy of x-files. i propose that every newspaper editor in america is part of a liberal hive mind. that is the only way to explain 30-40 of them printing this pedestrian obam-apologia.
    to test it i propose kicking the editor of the atlanta paper in the shin to see if the editor of the boise paper yelps.

    varmint (293532)

  6. I have a hunch right now his fear is not coming from the “far right in Bakersfield”.

    Unless, of course, he has bared his very soul to the folks in Cleveland.

    I hope, for his sake, he is a sole-misguided-spammer.

    JayCee (00f5a1)

  7. There’s something here…

    …I just have no clue what it might be.

    h2u (147639)

  8. Thanks for posting this. It takes a strong man to want an explanation for everything that doesn’t make sense and accept the political risk that goes with it. At every step, no matter how bizarre the “final” explanation in this episode, too many want to call an end to it and say they’re satisfied.

    How much will it matter in the end? If it’s the PR firm it’s noteworthy, sure, but uncovering lies and manipulation no matter how insignificant is priceless. Remember “Libertarian Girl”? “She” was nothing, but her exposure was so satisfying to the people who knew they were being lied to but couldn’t prove it. BTW, google around, “she” looks to be up to her old tricks again, but no smoking gun there, yet.

    Emma (9bbea0)

  9. […] pediatric nurse named Barbara Brooks, aged 51. But then an element of low comedy sets in (see also Patterico and Hot Air): two different “Barbara Brooks”es come forward, and supposedly the actual […]

    “Ellie Light” astroturfer revealed « Spin, strangeness, and charm (725c82)

  10. I dunno. My bassett hound is named Winston but his paws are probably too big for a keyboard. I don’t have any bark recognition software loaded so he is probably innocent. Although whenever I come home he looks awfully guilty. He is also a sucker for belly rubs. I haven’t seen any Democrats around here, though. Well, I’ll go along with your guy.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  11. Well, there’s your Hispanic connection to the Miami Herald’s translation to Spanish of this Ellie’s letter.

    This should be tipped off to C4P/HotAir/HillBuzz.

    ProudPalinFan (0f2e2f)

  12. What about the emails? Didn’t one come from Italy? Didn’t one come from Saudi Arabia that was part of a bot net?

    Why make up the story about the traveling nurse?

    yarrrrr (e0f897)

  13. […] denies being married to her. I feel much better now.Nothing to see here. Move along.UPDATE: Hey, good stuff from Patterico:Winston Steward is a Kos Kiddie . . . And the first person he followed on Twitter is the president […]

    Good News: ‘Ellie Light’ Is a Man : The Other McCain (128b91)

  14. Golly. Before I saw that picture, I’d never have guessed the Obama-loving Astro-turfer was a dirty, guitar-playing hippie from California.

    I’m floored.

    Jim Lakely (2d3291)

  15. FWIW, Winston is Hispanic. And, apparently a health care worker himself. That alone might explain his inclination to follow Segal.

    However, he’s also a self-described activist, and one of those Kos posts is even discussing the pros and cons of “local” and ” from outside the district” political pressures.

    He says “We were taught” that it [putting pressure (calls, letters, etc) on a congressman when not from his district] could backfire.

    So he might have some PR connections for the sake of helping in grass roots :cough: organizing.

    Also, I mentioned earlier ( a little reluctantly because he steals women’s names without their permission), one of his facebook friends runs a PR/Marketing firm in Maryland, a firm that in previous iterations, at least ( according to an article about her predecessor at the firm) handles Health care industry business.
    Her name? Ellie. Probably a total coincidence or a handy name for Winston.

    Lone Jihadi nutbag? Possibly. But maybe he was part of a coordinated effort.

    SarahW (692fc6)

  16. “Well, there’s your Hispanic connection to the Miami Herald’s translation to Spanish of this Ellie’s letter.”

    The Miami Herald prints in both spanish and english IIRC

    yarrrrr (e0f897)

  17. Strange but he looks exactly as I thought he would.

    Dennis D (e0b996)

  18. […] . . . well, Patterico has another look. I link not because IT’S A CONSPIRACY and THERE’S SOMETHING HERE, I TELLS YOU but because it’s […]

    Me & Missus – Missus Light (f20473)

  19. Ellie needs a shave. Probably a bath too.

    papertiger (bb60d1)

  20. Winston Steward is Facebook friends with one Ellie Short Whims of Washington, D.C.

    Is she the inspiration for our Ellie?

    By the way, I have sent friend requests to both Winston and Ellie. LOLOL! Let’s see what happens!


    LoudCitizen (550a60)

  21. Hey! It’s Mr. Van Driesen, the hippie teacher from Beavis & Butthead. Duuude!!!

    Icy Texan (cbd930)

  22. The fascinating thing here is the editors. Obviously they don’t do the checking they should when they print letters. Obviously, also, someone wanted this letter printed all over the place.

    I’m waiting with baited breath to see where this goes.

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  23. Well, the phony from Philly is doubling down on stupid by having Winston on again. Problem Smerconish is so in the bag for Obama that he won’t get to any salient points of this story.

    PCD (7c9060)

  24. Maybe i’m missing something here. Smerconish is “in the bag for Obama”? Since fucking when? I know that I’m out here in West Texas — nowhere near Philadelphia — but I occasionally listen to Smerconish on Internet radio, and that’s not the impression I have of him. Sounds like someone is nursing a personal grudge.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Icy Texan (cbd930)

  25. Ellie Light?…..This GUY is from Long Beach, city of my birth…..

    Just wondering if his location might have been the origin of the name…..“L.A.Lite”???????

    Just wondering.

    Duke DeLand (569339)

  26. Hey, has anyone noticed that Ellie Light might be a reference to La Light? Like L.A.? Louisiana, as in Senator Landrieu, and Light, as in sunshine?

    Hmmm… sunshine… heat! … fire? gasoline…. citgo!!!

    OMG, Landrieu and Chavez had a lovechild who is ELLIE LIGHT!

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  27. No, Winston just demonstrates the dyed to the soul dishonesty of the Democrat party and its supporters.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  28. I think there is a very strong inference that these folks are connected to White House strategists. Do I consider it a big deal? Probably not, but I’m glad someone is doing the legwork to expose it as the astroturfing it is. The funniest thing is these PR firms claim to have extensive experience at outreach relies on…writing letters to the editor? What’s next, a bake sale?

    the wolf (54094c)

  29. My previous question, from one of the other threads – why did they use the same name over and over?

    The poster was an idiot, a prankster, or had some creepy plan to be discovered.

    Looks like it was just an idiot.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  30. Why is he lying?

    The guy lives in California and has seen what happened to the supporter of Prop 8.

    Neo (7830e6)

  31. Well, the last PR firm connection seems to be pure “whimsy.”

    Particularly given the speculation about the Hispanic healthcare connection, the prize for the best play on words I’ve seen yet would be “El Lie Light,” which so far as I can tell was first used by Uppity Woman here.

    Trochilus (21e9b0)

  32. […] Advisers Are Behind His Push For Immigration Reform. TOTUS may even give a shout-out to the newly-identified Ellie Light! Perhaps Maureen Dowd will have some clever analysis, […]

    I’m paying for this microphone…er, teleprompter! « Temple of Mut (ea1fd5)

  33. […] Patterico: Ellie Light is a man, […]

    Daily scoreboard « Don Surber (df6652)

  34. Great article documenting some good research into who “Ellie Light” / Winston Steward is and going a little deeper into some possible connections. At current, he looks like a lone-wolf liberal kook faking political support in a nationwide scam. However, as some of these contacts begin to firm and connections become clearer, I will not be surprised to find a more intentional campaign that Winston is only a introductory piece.


    SwamiDave (4e542c)

  35. I don’t think the white house would be stupid enough to use the same name in each city’s newspaper. They would make up different names (and probably have.)

    It was probably this idiot (and maybe a few accomplices) and his computer.

    Mike (0eb76f)

  36. I don’t think the white house would be stupid enough to use the same name in each city’s newspaper. They would make up different names (and probably have.)

    It was probably this idiot (and maybe a few accomplices) and his computer.

    Mike (0eb76f)

  37. @ icy Texan,
    I was a regular listener to Smerconish’s program here locally on 1210-WPHT until the day he announced that he could not in good conscience vote for anyone but Obama.
    Don’t think that’s verbatim, but it’s close.
    That sounds pretty well in the bag to me.
    Can’t tolerate him anymore. Bill Bennet has better bumper music too.

    alfondso (9bd3e5)

  38. you decided not to post my comment. I don’t blame you.

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    [NOTE to Ellie Light: Your other comment was on this thread. It posted after it was released from the spam filter. — DRJ]

    Ellie Light (dcff18)

  39. “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.” The whole Ellie Light story was amusing on the surface but is he lying? He may have had a genuine fear of harassment and in the wake of this publicity his concern it was somewhat valid. His connection to a P.R. firm? I follow polar political opposites on my own twitter. Does a person merit a diagnoses of a “screw loose” for posting 42 newspaper comments? “But there’s no harm in throwing this all out there for you to peruse. That’s the idea of the open source method.” Is it? Must we follow some arbitrary rule about how many anonymous posting are permissible or risk public scrutiny?

    Mary Stack (e33c02)

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