A Republican official in Arizona on Wednesday confirmed something that’s long been suspected.
State schools superintendent John Huppenthal has been a prolific and often incendiary anonymous commenter on local political blogs.
Under various pseudonyms, including Falcon9, Thucky and Thucydides, Huppenthal has authored hundreds of comments at the progressive Blog for Arizona since at least 2011.
He engaged in self-promotion, writing in February that he’s “sure” Huppenthal, who’s up for re-election this year, “will be our next superintendent.”
He once decried Barack Obama for “rewarding the lazy pigs with food stamps (44 million people), air-conditioning, free health care, flat-screen TV’s (typical of ‘poor’ families).” and even went birther, claiming that the president wrote in his memoir that “he was born in Kenya!!!”
In one comment, he compared Margaret Sanger to Adolf Hitler, writing that the Planned Parenthood founder “fed 16 million African-Americans into the abortion mills. He also argued that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “disastrous economic policies drug down the whole world and directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph Hitler who was going nowhere until Germany’s economy went into the tank.”
Attorney Bob Lord, who writes at the Blog for Arizona, has long believed that Huppenthal was behind the comments. He told TPM last week, before the superintendent’s admission, that he’d traced the IP address linked to one of the comments to a computer inside the Department of Education Building.
Lord also said Huppenthal frequented several local political sites and had earned a reputation in the commenting communities.
“He’s posting, as far as I can tell, on every conservative or liberal blog out there in Arizona,” Lord said. “If you go to the conservative sites, they’ll say like, ‘Oh, it’s just Huppenthal doing this again.’ It’s sort of common knowledge with them.”
Lord said Huppenthal once “absent-mindedly signed his name” to a comment on another blog.
After Lord poked fun at Huppenthal in a blog post last week, Thucydides seemed to implicitly confirm the accusation. Here’s a screengrab of the comment:
On Wednesday, Huppenthal owned up to the comments in a statement to the Arizona Republic. Although he said he has “occasionally dipped into the morass of incivility,” Huppenthal, who’s held his statewide post since 2011 and served in the Arizona legislature before that, mostly defended his comments.
“I believe in rigorous public discourse, in furthering ideas and reforming ideologies that don’t always work,” Huppenthal said in the statement.
“Anonymity has its value as our founding fathers believed when they developed the Federalist Papers,” he added. “It is not a new concept, our history reflects that.”
He said that some of his anonymous comments have been taken “completely out of context, or perhaps misunderstood.”
“Specifically, my reference to a phrase in a nursery fable, the Little Red Hen, in which a fat lazy pig refuses to help the little red hen sow her seeds was inaccurately presented to characterize my views regarding those on welfare,” he said in the statement. “I have never been insensitive to issues around poverty and have fought for public policy that provides opportunities for jobs for all our citizens who want to work and support for those who are vulnerable.”
He said his reference to Sanger can’t be properly understood without “historical context of her ideas.”
“She was at the heart of a eugenics movement, clearly reflected in her writings,” Huppenthal wrote.
He said that while he regrets “certain inflammatory words,” he makes no apologies “for being a pro-life policy maker, or someone who believes in improving conditions for all people.”