Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Is this "Carlos," the man who tried to frame a senator?

I had not intended to write about the Bob Menendez "prostitution" scandal, in which a woman in the Dominican Republic was paid to make false accusations against a senator. But take a look at this TPM story about the search for the mystery-man Carlos, who seems to have engineered the scam. My question: How on earth did Erich Lach of TPM manage to write that piece without mentioning either the Breitbart crew or James O'Keefe's "Project Veritas"?

Cah-MON. This stunt has O'Keefe written all over it. Did you know that O'Keefe has a particular grudge against Senator Menendez and has targeted him previously?

The O'Keefe crew love to sexualize their pseudo-stings, in large part because they are young guys who think about sex often, as young guys are wont to do. But I'm sure that they also grin and guffaw when online feminists (either real ones or sockpuppets) post comments presuming the guilt of anyone who, like Robert Menendez, has committed the crime of being born with a penis.

For a little more on this story, see here.

For a lot more, see here. Yes, "Breitbart Unmasked" is back, even though I seem to recall that the site had announced that the shop would be closing. A writer calling himself Xenephon suggests that "Carlos" may be a James O'Keefe associate named John Melvin Howting. Not long ago, Howting was a staffer for Republican congressman Thad McCotter.

Here's the photographic evidence:

Now, I know what you're going to say: Carlos has shorter hair and darker skin. can be cut and/or styled with product. As for the skin...
While attending Miami University of Ohio, Howting led the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute on campus and invited O’Keefe to speak on campus. Fellow students reported that Howting once applied tanning oil to his face and tried to pass as a Latino liberal activist, which is precisely the sort of “dirty trick” O’Keefe acolytes aspire to perform. It’s no great stretch to see Howting growing facial hair and perhaps applying makeup in order to alter his appearance, and one fake mole and a haircut would be enough to make him look like “Carlos.”
(Emphasis added.) Here's more about Howting and his antics:
Howting’s name first appeared on the public radar when he attempted to pass himself off as a worker trying to organize a union while attempting to sting community organizers in Harlem. That operation was backed by an elaborate fake website, which is a common feature of O’Keefe’s shenanigans. Shortly after the Harlem episode became public, O’Keefe’s voter ID “sting” video hit the internet. In it, a man tries to obtain the ballot of Attorney General Eric Holder while wearing a hidden camera. Howting was later identified as the individual behind the camera, although to date no 100% positive match has been made.
I know you'll want more details about that. So here's a fascinating piece about Howting from the New York Times:
Young, bearded, a bit scruffy, a young man walked into a community organizing office in East Harlem, lugging a heavy bag. A little nervous, he said that his name was Melvin Howting, and that he worked for an environmental company in New Jersey and had a few questions about how to organize a union.

He wanted to know how to get higher wages.

And, oh yes, he had another question: If he formed a union, could his fellow workers join with the employer to shake down politicians for more money?

At this point, Rhea Byer-Ettinger, an organizer for Manhattan Together, felt her internal baloney detector go on red alert. “Beep, beep, beep,” she said. “I said to him: ‘Well, that’s not how we work. Tell me, why are you asking me about that?’ ”

This is the anatomy of a political sting.

Nothing this fellow said was true. Public records reveal that his real name is John M. Howting. He is active in the conservative movement and does not want to organize a union. His company — for which he built an elaborate Web site — and its officials do not exist. Ms. Byer-Ettinger suspects that he secretly recorded their conversation.
Mr. Howting, in fact, is a young conservative in a hurry. He matriculated at Miami University of Ohio, where he led the deeply conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute and invited James O’Keefe, the grandmaster of conservative undercover dirty tricks, to speak on campus. Mr. Howting was accused by fellow students of once slathering tanning oil on his face and trying to pass as a Latino liberal activist on campus.

While he was in college, a conservative radio show named him a top young conservative of the week.

For this scam, Mr. Howting apparently took his middle name, Melvin, as his alias. He constructed a fake Facebook page, where he declared his love for Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Obama and Chris Matthews, not to mention the rapper Kanye West. His site for the New Jersey environmental company boasted of a vice president who had attended Earlham College and a chief executive who had graduated from West Point with “highest distinction.”

A check with Earlham and West Point found no record of either man.
Officially, Howting was Representative McCotter's "scheduler." His monthly pay is listed here. McCotter claims that he had no knowledge of the East Harlem sting.
"Mr. John M. Howting has been separated from my Milford district office since February 15, 2012, when he informed his supervisor that he was taking a position working with inner city youth in Cincinnati, Ohio," McCotter said. "Since this time, our office has had no knowledge of Mr. Howting's activities."
Clearly, Howting is an impersonator, an ideologue, a wanna-be spy with delusions of competence, an arrogant young twerp and an all-around asshole. But is he our "Carlos"? I don't know for sure, but I would say that he shoots right to the top of our list of suspects. Let's put it this way: I wouldn't bet the rent money, but I'd probably bet the lunch money.

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