Internet Squatter Trolls Capitol Police (Updated)
Updated: 8:20 a.m. | Typing CapitolPolice.us into a Web browser reveals a toxic takedown of Congress’ own law enforcement agency that appears to have been created by someone who wears — or recently wore — a Capitol Police badge.
A cybersquatter who is full of vitriol for Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, his inner circle and the senior House and Senate officials in charge of security established an “Independent News, Opinion and Commentary” site to troll the department. A former employee of the Capitol Police brought the site to Roll Call’s attention Thursday morning.
“NONFEASANCE RUN WILD AT THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT,” stated some blaring text below an outdated photo of a scaffolding-free Dome. After the headline, a 1,142-word article with racist and anti-Semitic overtones warns of a “crisis level of incompetency” among Capitol Police. The piece attacks current and former leaders of the agency, accusing them of a “laissez faire” attitude, “permitting the Union to run amok” and losing the respect of citizens.
“Only one group on Capitol Hill has more potential for disappointment — the Capitol Police Board which is responsible for direct oversight of the Department,” it states. “Some members of the Board have known that disaster has been looming and growing steadily larger, yet to date has shown neither the political will nor the intestinal fortitude to carry out its own leadership responsibility and quietly ask the Chef and Assistant Chief ‘Operating Officer’ to step down before they are forced to document their incompetence.”
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin, who is chairman of the Capitol Police Board, and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving did not respond to requests for comment. Larkin took his post in January. Irving was appointed in 2012. In April, the board signaled continuity in Capitol Police leadership after an April 10 report that Dine had submitted a resignation letter.
Other articles on the site were not accessible later Thursday morning, displaying a “404 – Page Not Found” error message. Sources suggested the error was due to an uptick in traffic, as word spread among rank-and-file officers, who acknowledged seeing the site for the first time that morning.
The domain was registered on a Saturday afternoon in late January, but came to the attention of officials only this month. Online domain ownership data lists the name Paul Donovan as the registrant and suggests the site is run out of Capitol Police headquarters. The phone number listed belongs to Capitol Police watch command. Attempts to identify or reach the owner were unsuccessful.
Capitol Police is aware of the “unauthorized website,” spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider said in an email. The site was brought to the department’s attention by the union, according to Schneider.
“Dine and I might have had our disagreements, but this character assassination is totally uncalled for,” said Jim Konczos, chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee. Konczos shared a May 4 email he received that he said was his first introduction to the site. On May 21, Konczos discussed the site with Larkin.
Konczos speculated the content, which makes reference to internal disciplinary actions taken against supervisors, comes from “somebody with a vendetta” who is “high up on the food chain.”
In the early hours of Friday morning, the site added a post lashing out at Capitol Police brass for launching a hunt to determine who owns and manages the site.
“No laws have been violated and the editors are no longer employees; consequently Department policy no longer applies. Nevertheless, the Department will launch a costly investigation…..to what end? No secrets have been revealed, no sensitive data discussed,” the post states.
It claims the people behind the site have been “forced to carefully insert false and misleading information into the technical data of the site,” to derail department attempts to uncover their identities.
Describing the people behind the unauthorized site as a team of volunteer “editors,” the post states the site will be temporarily disabled as its owners take additional measures to review security and “protect employees, past and present, from retaliation.” But the post claims it will be back online soon.
The site surfaced amid other bad publicity for the department, which last week became the butt of a late-night TV joke. Dine took heat from lawmakers during a May 20 hearing. The House Administration Committee asked him to account for poor communications during the April 15 landing of a gyrocopter on the West Front, and the CQ Roll Call report of three instances in which officers left guns unattended around the Capitol. One was allegedly found by a child as young as 7, who was visiting Speaker John A. Boehner with his parents.