In the first big prank of the election cycle, a fake press release circulated late Tuesday night led some reporters to believe that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) had voted to withdraw its endorsement of President Obama in 2012.
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry was quoted in the press release as saying, “Our members gave $60.7 million dollars to the Obama campaign in 2008 and fought hard for his election because we were promised change. We’re still waiting.”
The email was sent by Mark McCullough, spokesman for the SEIU. But if you looked closely at his email address, it was missing a “c,” and emails to that address bounced back.
“Late Tuesday night, a fake press release was circulated purporting that SEIU had pulled the endorsement of President Obama made by SEIU members on November 16,” read a statement on the SEIU blog. “So just to be clear: We stand by our November 16, 2011 endorsement of President Obama. ... Any reports to the contrary are simply false.”
The number on the press release goes to a voicemail for “Mark.” He has not returned a call for comment, but in a conversation with a reporter from Talking Points Memo the man refused to admit that the press release was a hoax.
The purpose of the prank is unclear, although it comes the day after another powerful union, AFSCME, announced its endorsement of Obama.
Reporters have been fooled before by fake press releases — for example, a fake press release was sent last December claiming Koch Industries was pledging to fund climate change research. The company sued over the prank; that lawsuit was dismissed.