COLUMBUS — A hacker breached the Ohio House speaker’s Twitter account and sent out tweets that made it appear the Republican was supporting liberal causes, a spokesman for the House Republican Caucus said Thursday.
Other phony posts show Speaker William Batchelder appearing to criticize Republican Gov. John Kasich or promote former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, caucus spokesman Mike Dittoe said.
Dittoe said that while the GOP legal counsel worked with the company to eliminate the tweets, staff members shut the account down.
Meanwhile, Batchelder told reporters that he didn’t even know he had a Twitter account. He said he wouldn’t be doing any more of “this twittering.”
“Why do I have a device like that? I can’t play it,” said the Republican from Medina in northeast Ohio.
The account is maintained by caucus staffers and is a valuable way to get information out, Dittoe said. He expects to restart the account.
“We just want to make sure we are following all the proper security protocols before we do,” he said.
Aside from the latest breach, Dittoe said, the House Republican staff earlier this year worked with Twitter to have a fake Batchelder account shut down.
“We are continuing to work with Twitter to ensure that matters like this don’t happen again,” Dittoe said.
The reported breach comes amid media coverage surrounding a lewd photo sent from the Twitter account of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York. Weiner said a hacker used his Twitter account to post the photo. The photo showed a man’s bulging underpants.
Dittoe said he realized that the hacker’s tweets had become a problem when he saw a tweet in the speaker’s account Tuesday from the liberal group ProgressOhio.
That tweet said: “Wow!! Suddenly Bill Batchelder supports” and went on to list various liberal groups and causes, and a link to the fake tweets, Dittoe said.
ProgressOhio did not know at the time that the tweets on Batchelder’s account were inaccurate, and “that’s why we were so surprised,” the group’s executive, Brian Rothenberg said Thursday.