The cyber-smear of Ward 3 council candidate Sam Brooks began last weekend with the creation of a phony Yahoo profile. Under a smiling photo of Brooks, someone posted a message that said a vote for Brooks would help make homosexuality a crime in the District.
The next day, a message riddled with misspellings appeared on the local Craigslist site. Its title: "I am a proud white supremist Democrat." That message urged voters to support Brooks if they agree that blacks should be made powerless, that Hispanics should be chased from the city and that rights for gays should be eliminated.
Brooks was appalled by the postings and by similar missives sent in his name to a variety of message boards and Web sites. "It quickly went from, 'Oh, this is a fun little political battle' to 'We'll ignore it' to 'Wait, this has to be handled by lawyers,' " Brooks said in an interview.
Brooks, a Democratic activist who won attention last year when he came in third in the primary to replace D.C. Council member Harold Brazil, said he has asked a lawyer to seek a court order to force the culprit's Internet service provider to cough up his or her identity. Brooks said he thinks he knows who it is, though he declined to identify the person publicly.
Brooks's only declared opponent in the race, Jonathan R. Rees, a business manager for an institutional dental care company, said he had nothing to do with the phony messages. In fact, Rees said, he, too, has been victimized by anonymous attacks against his candidacy posted on message boards.
"I'm just trying to pretend like it's not happening," he said. "I'm telling people, 'Don't react to them. You're only going to make yourself look bad.' "
By press time Tuesday, Brooks had yet to unmask his tormentor. In the meantime, he has posted his own message on Craigslist decrying the "nasty, cruel, and offensive posts . . . made by someone impersonating me -- and my campaign for DC Council. . . .
"I am certain people have been offended by the posts, and I am so sorry my name was so directly associated with them."
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
Put City Administrator Robert C. Bobb firmly in the maybe category: Last week, Bobb said he is not considering a run for mayor, but he declined to rule out the possibility.
"I haven't made any calls to anybody," Bobb told reporters at the mayor's weekly news conference. "But if someone approaches me and makes me an offer I can't refuse, I have to look out for my future."
For the moment, Bobb said his sights are focused on guaranteeing the success of Mayor Anthony A. Williams's final year in office. "I tie my success to him," Bobb said. "Total loyalty."
And Perhaps, but Unlikely
You can put former U.S. attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. in the maybe-but-unlikely column.
Holder, who had been considering a run for mayor, said Tuesday that he probably won't seek to replace Williams, though he didn't slam the door.
"I still have time to decide," he said.
The busy former lawman is a litigation partner at Covington & Burling and has joined Jeffrey H. Smulyan, founder and chairman of an Indianapolis-based media conglomerate, in an effort to buy the Washington Nationals from Major League Baseball. Former Redskins Art Monk, Charles Mann and Calvin Hill are also in on that deal.
"Why couldn't the mayor also be an owner of the baseball team?" Holder said jokingly.
Holder also recently signed on as legal adviser to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the association that lobbies for drug companies.
Ted Trabue, a Pepco lobbyist and former chief of staff to D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D) back when she was an at-large member, is leaving the utility for an upstart firm dedicated to helping D.C. residents nab lucrative construction jobs.
Trabue will become executive director of the District Economic Empowerment Coalition, a D.C.-based nonprofit group created by businessmen Brett McMahon of Miller & Long Co. Inc., a Bethesda construction firm, and Bill Dean of M.C. Dean Inc., an engineering firm in Dulles.
McMahon and Dean started talking about creating a firm to focus on job training, entrepreneurship and mentoring about eight months ago. McMahon said the coalition's goal is to do more than train a blue-collar workforce. Advising interested individuals on owning a construction company also will be key.
Trabue's background made him an ideal candidate for the coalition's top job, McMahon said.
"Ted's got a real track record with everyone from job creators to nonprofits to government officials, so he can speak with a lot of credibility," McMahon said.
Trabue will be charged with developing a pool of skilled workers for the construction industry. Trabue said he will also focus on developing mentoring programs and introducing the construction trades into high schools and vocational programs.
"It's tough getting employees, particularly skilled labor," Trabue said. "We have to start developing those talent pools."
Staff writer Eric M. Weiss contributed to this report.