Matt Osborne, of Florence, Alabama, has claimed since The New York Times exposed his underhanded tactics in early January, that he and his associates were acting within the law. In fact, Osborne claimed no law governed the deceptive use of social media to interfere with a federal election -- such as a U.S. Senate race.
Our recent report showed that a specific law -- 18 U.S.C. 371 ("Conspiracy to Defraud the United States") -- governs such interference, and Osborne likely violated it. In fact, it's the same law Special Counsel Robert Mueller used last July to indict 11 Russian nationals in the Trump-Russia investigation.
Osborne responded to our report, via a series of blog comments and Twitter messages, with a combination of vitriol, ignorance, nonsense, insolence . . . and, well, you get the idea. Osborne, who uses the handle "Stephen Miller's Fright Wig" on Twitter, appeared unable to counter the actual law we had cited -- the law he apparently failed to uncover before diving into the Dry Alabama swamp.
Does that mean Osborne will be prosecuted? Of course not, as we noted in our recent post. Given the disheveled state of our justice system, I'm not sure the feds could stage a solid trespass case -- never mind a case of possible election fraud. But Osborne has admitted engaging in acts that appear to violate Sec. 371, and that seems to go to criminal intent, so mounting a defense if charges are filed could be a challenge.
Meanwhile Doug Jones claims ignorance of the Dry Alabama scheme and has called for a federal investigation. But it strains believability to think Jones was so out to lunch that he was unaware of a scheme designed to help him beat favored Republican Roy Moore for Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat. Could Jones wind up selling Osborne and Co. down the proverbial river in order to protect his own exalted political status? Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman can tell you about Jones' penchant for backstabbing, so Osborne might want to be getting his life raft ready.
Something certainly seems to have Osborne in a state of agitation. Consider this comment he left at our March 20 post about apparent violations of Sec. 371:
Matt Osborne said...
Is there a law against Facebook pages? No. Is there a law against Facebook pages presenting a point of view that you don't really agree with? Again, no. The reason I am going to "escape" charges is that there are no laws against what we did. None. Zero. Zilch. Strictly speaking, it wasn't even a violation of Facebook policy.
And that was kinda the point of doing Dry Alabama. "Look, see what I can get away with? Does this bother you? Maybe enough to pass a law against it? Good, let's have that conversation."
Of course, it's unlikely that Dry Alabama put Doug Jones over the top. The fact that his signs were EVERYWHERE, the massive enthusiasm for his candidacy, is how he won. He and his team worked their butts off to win every last vote they could, and it worked. I live on a street where every yard had a Doug Jones sign in 2017 but then local Republican candidates' signs in 2018. Jones was the most popular Democrat I've seen since I was a kid watching George Wallace win his final term.
Of course, the irony here is that of the two of us, Roger, you are the one who has been to jail for publishing falsehoods. That's what you get for printing the ravings of Bob Riley's aggrieved ex-girlfriend as headlines, I suppose.
March 20, 2019 at 4:25 PM
Notice in the first paragraph that Osborne sets himself up as an expert on federal law; that quickly washes away. Notice in the final paragraph that he takes a dig at me -- and someone he claims to be the "aggrieved ex-girlfriend" of former governor Bob Riley. Here is my response:
Good thing you didn't go into the law because meaningless mental exercises like the one on display here would not get you far. A few points:
(1) Who was your "legal counsel" on this matter? Whoever it was, I would urge you to fire him.
(2) There is a law, as cited in my post, and Robert Mueller has used it to indict multiple Russian nationals for "defrauding the United States" by tampering with a federal election. You violated that law by tampering with a federal election -- the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. Under federal law, statutes often are written broadly, and you must check the case law to know what you are dealing with and how the law has been applied. You should have done that before engaging in a con game like Dry Alabama and then admitting what you had done. Your ignorance of federal law could bite you on the ass, big time.
(3) You don't know whether Dry Alabama put Jones over the top, and it doesn't matter anyway. A law does exist -- even though you are trying to wish it away -- and you broke it. Does that mean you will be prosecuted? Nope. Our justice system might be too broken to do its job. And Doug Jones might successfully cover things up. But you violated the law.
(4) What "falsehoods" have I published? Can you explain how anything I've published has, as a matter of law, been found false? Or are you just taking Liberty Duke's word on that. (Rob Riley, BTW, never has claimed under oath that my reporting was false. His lack of a denial, under oath, suggests even he knows my reporting was accurate.)
(5) So you and your friend, Melissa [Brewer], came to our house because you believed I had published falsehoods? Was your presence there a con job, as I now have come to suspect? Taking advantage of a woman (my wife, Carol) whose husband has just been kidnapped inside their home? Real classy, Matt. Shows how you respect women -- not to mention your disdain for rule of law.
(6) Who is "Bob Riley's girlfriend," of whom you speak? She made me print falsehoods? How? (On the subject of girlfriends, does Doug Jones have one, not his wife? I'm hearing he does. I even have a name and address and workplace. Check it out.)
(7) Congrats on drinking the Doug Jones Kool-Aid to the max. He has a history as a backstabber (ask Don Siegelman), and he will sell you and your Netroots friends down the river at the first opportunity.
March 20, 2019 at 8:31 PM
I challenge Osborne to cite any "falsehoods" I have published, and not surprisingly, he comes up empty. I've reported several times that Osborne and a woman named Melissa Brewer came to our home to visit my wife, Carol, a few days after Shelby County deputies had kidnapped me from inside our house and taken me to jail for a five-month stay. Osborne never has indicated my reporting on that issue was off target, but now he claims the woman was someone other than Melissa Brewer -- whose online profile indicates she is a "copywriter, content curator, and social media strategist" in Washington, D.C.. In fact, the subject of Melissa Brewer seems to be quite sensitive for Osborne. Hmmm . . .
Matt Osborne said...
If Dry Alabama is "interference" in a federal election, then why isn't Brad Parscale [digital media director for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign] in prison right now? If It was "cheating," then lots of political operators belong in prison, too.
According to the USSC, I have a First Amendment RIGHT to lie, "cheat," and spend dark money on political campaigns.
Roger, her name wasn't Melissa. This is how good you are with facts. We came to visit Carol because we genuinely wanted to be sure she was okay and had some groceries. I wanted to bring attention to the unacceptable beating and arrest of an indie journalist, as I was one at the time. Since then, I have learned that other, better, less-insane journalists have disproven much of your reporting. It's also become clear to me that you are completely bonkers. I suspect that if I went through the IP addresses on these comments, I would find they are mostly coming from inside your house.
March 21, 2019 at 10:40 AM
Osborne has a "right" to cheat on federal elections? I suspect Robert Mueller would beg to differ. Other "less-insane journalists" have disproved much of my reporting? Surely Osborne wants to share their names and links to their work. Well . . . maybe not.
Your ignorance of federal law is blinding, and it could land you in deep doo-doo. A few thoughts:
(1) Whatever Brad Parscale may or may not have done has nothing to do with your situation. Sure, other political operators might belong in prison. But you interfered with a federal election and were stupid enough to admit it. Our system is flawed, and yes, some people get away with unlawful acts and some don't. You might get away with it, and you might not. But you clearly interfered with a federal election, "defrauding the United States," just as Mueller has alleged against Russian nationals. You can't refute that, so you try to change the subject. There is a law against what you did, and if Doug Jones put you up to it, he violated the law, too.
(2) Is the "USSC" the U.S. Supreme Court? What case are you referring to? Does it involve tampering with an election, because that's what you've admitted you did? Again, you are trying to change the subject, to dark money, First Amendment, etc. Your situation isn't about that. It's about tampering with a federal election, which you have admitted to doing. And you call ME insane? Now, that IS "hilarious."
(3) Carol told me she thought the woman's name was Melissa, and Carol usually has a pretty good memory on such things. If that's not correct, what is the woman's name? As you recall, I wasn't around for introductions.
(4) So, you thought my arrest and beating were unacceptable, but now you are OK with it? Is that the effect Doug Jones and Rob Riley have had on you? Or maybe you entered our home under false pretenses all along?
(5) Who are these journalists who have disproven my reporting? Can you provide their names and links to their articles that disprove my reporting? My reporting never has been disproven in court, as a matter of law, so how did these journalists manage to do it? I can't wait to find out your details on that. Also, can't wait for info on "Bob Riley's girlfriend." You mean he had a girlfriend, kind of like Rob's version of Liberty Duke?
March 21, 2019 at 11:28 AM
Osborne seems to engage in classic avoidance behavior. I ask him to cite these court cases that give him a "right" to cheat on a federal election; he has no answer. If Melissa Brewer did not come to our home, I ask him to state the name of the woman who did; again, no answer. I ask him to cite names of journalists who have disproven my reporting, with links to their articles; we get crickets from Matt O.
We will have more from our zany back-and-forth with Matt Osborne, who claims to be a political lefty. For now, I can only note how much he sounds like some of the right-wing loons we've encountered over the years -- especially the noxious Aaron Worthing (also known as Aaron Walker) and Robert Stacy McCain.
(To be continued)