The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Neal Rauhauser’s Criminal Complaint Against Blogger Greg W. Howard

Posted on | June 19, 2012 | 16 Comments

“People engaged in provocative online conduct feel insulated; they’re in the comfort of their own home, if they’ve engaged in a little bit of caution they may feel completely anonymous, and this emboldens them. Specifying the strategy we’ll use to break their anonymity won’t permit any mitigation on their part without adjusting their behavior, which counts as a win for us. We’re dealing with people who have likely had no interaction with the court system beyond a traffic ticket; the potential for a pro se litigant to force them into expensive, long distance, lengthy, discovery laden litigation doesn’t seem to cross their minds.”
Neal Rauhauser (aka “Stranded Wind”), Aug. 29, 2010

“What I describe here is a textbook application of the principles of Open Source Intelligence. We’re going to observe, collect, and collate information. An orderly, professional effort here will counter the Open Source Stupidity we’re seeing from the radical right, providing an invaluable resource for civil and criminal actions.”
Neal Rauhauser (aka “Stranded Wind”), Aug. 31, 2010

Neal Rauhauser has attacked his enemies with a “lawfare” strategy similar to the methods his client, Brett Kimberlin, used to get blogger Aaron Walker arrested last month. Last year, Rauhauser filed a spurious criminal complaint against an Alabama man whom he accused of “inciting people to find and harm me.”

Rauhauser last year joined forces with Kimberlin’s 501(c) tax-exempt non-profit Velvet Revolution and has evidently been engaged in a relentless Internet-based effort aimed at critics of Kimberlin, a convicted felon notorious as Indiana’s “Speedway Bomber.”

In 2010, Rauhauser was involved in a scandal known as “TwitterGate.” Using a Twitter account called @WingNutWatch, Rauhauser was accused of having “organized a group of E-Thugs meant to harass, threaten, provoke, disparage, intimidate, verbally assault, berate & employ hate-speech against those not in agreement with his brand of politics,” to cite blogger Patrick Read’s September 2010 description.

One of the primary targets of the TwitterGate harassment — by a group of Twitter accounts Rauhauser called his “beandog militia” — was an Alabama resident named Greg W. Howard. A Marine veteran and financial advisor who is also a political blogger, Howard is a popular Tea Party activist on Twitter, where his account has more than 20,000 followers. As part of an apparently orchestrated campaign of provocation, a series of vicious and obscene messages were directed at Howard in 2010. (Warning: Extremely graphic language.)

Rauhauser’s role in TwitterGate was exposed by Read and other conservative activists, including the Twitter user @Zapem, who produced a YouTube video documenting the shocking harassment. It was discovered that Rauhauser, employed by Democratic political candidates through his consulting firm ProgressivePST, had explicitly discussed his plans to mount a coordinated attack against conservatives online in two posts (using his alias “Stranded Wind”) at the site Open Left:

These posts explained in great detail Rauhauser’s intent: “An organized community response” aimed at “beheading this nuisance” — i.e., conservatives whom he accused of wrongdoing — “seeking an opportunity to engage them with a synthetic presence or otherwise penetrate their anonymity,” which would “get up inside their network and collect actionable information.”

By “synthetic presence,” Rauhauser evidently meant creating so-called sockpuppet accounts, which would act as online agents provocateurs, engaging in activity intended to (a) find the real-life identities of various conservatives using Twitter, and (b) seek some basis for criminal prosecutions and/or civil lawsuits against these individuals:

“A citizen knowledgeable as to the players in the various right wing cells in evidence on Twitter can dramatically reduce the work load for investigators and plaintiff’s lawyers, turning cases that might have been ignored into slam dunk wins.”

Unfortunately for Rauhauser, his targets were not as stupid as he thought they were, nor was he as smart as he thought he was.

On Aug. 31, 2010, the same day he declared his intent to go after “right wing cells,” Rauhauser created a sock-puppet account he called “WingNutWatch,” which then acted as a sort of Twitter ringleader for the effort he described. It took less than a month, however, for Greg Howard, Patrick Read and @ZapEm to document the malicious actions of Rauhauser and his “beandogs,” resulting in the “WingNutWatch” account being shut down by Twitter.

Rather than acknowledging his responsibility for the episode that soon became known as TwitterGate, Rauhauser claimed to be the victim of a right-wing conspiracy, and began plotting revenge against those who had exposed his activities. In August 2011, shortly after Rauhauser moved to Washington, D.C., and joined forces with Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution, he sent the following complaint against Greg W. Howard to the Alabama state attorney general’s office:

Dear Sirs,
Over the last eleven months, a man named Greg W. Howard, of Headland, Alabama, has constantly menaced me via the Internet. He has, in a verifiable fashion, done the following:
Published information to the effect that he knows where my ex-wife and children live, encouraging his tens of thousands of followers on Twitter to attack them in some fashion.
Published a list of my consulting customers, incited his followers to interfere with my business, and this has happened in a documented fashion on several occasions.
Appeared on a blogtalk radio show run by domestic extremist Sharon Meroni, in my home state of Illinois, inciting people to find and harm me, to interfere with my business, and so forth.
Published many sorts of libel about me, which are visible on, and this includes having incited Robert Stacy McCain, a man characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist and member of League of the South, to repeat his smears.
Incited Joe Ballard, a resident of Catawba, SC, to make a credible threat against me, which was investigated by the FBI hate crimes group in October of 2010.
He is careful that no individual crosses the line from menace to actual threat. I hope that the AG’s office will consider the frequency and duration of his conduct, as well as the fact that he successfully incited one well documented threat, and investigate more fully. There are literally dozens of victims with stories similar to mine.
Neal Rauhauser

* * * * * * *

Rauhauser falsely accused Howard of “having incited” me “to repeat his smears.” I don’t know Howard and only became aware of Rauhauser and TwitterGate after seeing the video produced by ZapEm. Rauhauser apparently included my name (and repeated the SPLC’s decade-old attacks against me) in a guilt-by-association attempt to portray Howard as a dangerous extremist.

Joe Ballard of Catawba, S.C., whom Rauhauser claims has been “investigated by the FBI hate crimes group” is in fact a pastor at Oakland Road Missionary Baptist Church. Ballard’s alleged “hate crime”? He sent an e-mail (Aug. 27, 2010) to the campaign staff of Texas Democrat David Cozad, complaining that Rauhauser (a consultant on Cozad’s congressional campaign) had called Ballard and other conservatives “white trash with an Internet connection.”

Sharon Meroni, branded a “domestic extremist” by Rauhauser, is actually an Illinois citizen active in efforts to expose and prevent vote fraud. All of these alleged villains named by Rauhauser in his criminal complaint have one thing in common: They are conservatives who have been identified by Neal Rauhauser as “enemies.” Rauhauser appears to be mentally disturbed, and many of the accusations he makes seem to be rooted in his own paranoid delusions.

After Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was caught in a cybersex scandal last year, Rauhauser (writing as “Stranded Wind” at DailyKos) made this bizarre claim: “Congressman Weiner was stalked and set up by a Christian Infowar Militia cell based largely in Oklahoma City.” Rauhauser provided no evidence of the existence of this “Christian Infowar Militia cell”; Weiner ultimately admitted having sent lewd pictures via Twitter and resigned from Congress.

Rauhauser subsequently fixated on conservative blogger Patrick “Patterico” Frey as a scapegoat for the WeinerGate scandal, writing at Daily Kos in July 2011 that Frey “looks to be a pretty good candidate for the planner/operator behind Weinergate.”

Frey has described being “SWATted” in July 2011 and named Rauhauser among those suspected of complicity in that dangerous hoax.

Robert Stacy McCain, Whereabouts Unknown