Friday, May 20, 2016

Pima County Supe Ally Miller's Aide Claims He Was Victim of Online Impersonation and Did Not Try to Masquerade as a Reporter, But The Story Seems Less Than Credible

Posted By on Fri, May 20, 2016 at 1:47 PM

The bizarre story about Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller’s staffer, Timothy DesJarlais, has taken some new twists today.

As the Weekly reported yesterday, DesJarlais has an alter ego, Jim Falken, and recently someone had used the Falken name to create an online news site and to query members of the Board of Supervisors as well as candidates for office.

Big kudos to Tucson Sentinel’s Dylan Smith, who has a comprehensive report on DesJarlais’ strange cyber trail and the only interview with DesJarlais about this peculiar episode. It was after Smith reached DesJarlais via phone on Tuesday night that traces of “Jim Falken” began vanishing almost immediately from the web.

DesJarlais, who is also seeking a seat on the Marana School Board, has not returned multiple phone calls from the Weekly to confirm or deny that he set up an online news source—the Arizona Daily Herald—under the name of “Jim Falken.” But he did release a statement to the online propaganda blog Arizona Daily Independent.

DesJarlais acknowledged creating the “Jim Falken” identity “as part of a high school project” but said that he did not have anything to do with Jim Falken’s effort to create the Arizona Daily Herald:

“Regarding the current Arizona Daily Herald site and email address, those accounts are bogus accounts created by someone trying to impersonate me,” DesJarlais said in his statement. “As I work for Supervisor Miller and know both Kim and Marla well, I would have no reasons or time to pull any stunts like this. Nevertheless, I do apologize to anyone for the inconveniences caused to them and charge whoever did this to come forward and confess the truth.”

Perhaps DesJarlais will join O.J. on the hunt for the “real killers” next.

There are a number of holes in DesJarlais’ story—for example, if he had nothing to do with “Jim Falken” and the “Arizona Daily Herald,” why did all traces of him and the fledgling online blog vanish from the web after Smith talked to him? That’s a remarkable coincidence.

Here’s another: Elected officials and county candidates started to get email messages from “Jim Falken” last week. So if indeed someone were impersonating DesJarlais’ alter ego at that point without his knowledge, DesJarlais’ defense would have you believe he knew nothing about this scam to misinform the public via a bogus online site.

But just days ago, on Tuesday, May 17, the Arizona Daily Herald’s Facebook page featured a photo from that day’s board meeting that was clearly taken from where DesJarlais was seated—and DesJarlais told Smith that he did take the photo with his phone. So either the mystery man who was setting up DesJarlais’ somehow had access to his phone and stole the photo from him; or DesJarlais sent it someone who passed it along to the mystery man (and if that happened, DesJarlais ought to have a pretty good idea of who is “spoofing” him); or DesJarlais is “Jim Falken” and is totally lying about not knowing anything about this. DesJarlais himself suggested the second alternative in his interview with the Sentinel, so as soon as he can let us know the name of the “friend” he sent the photo to, the sooner he can clear his name.

You can draw your own conclusions based on what we know now, but ask yourself this: If you were the victim of this kind of identity spoofing, would you talk to a reporter about it and clear your name or would you run away and hide in the bathroom?