A Republican legislative aide in Maryland who was behind a fake news site that accused Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of election-rigging was fired Wednesday.
Del. David E. Vogt III (R-Frederick) said he terminated Cameron Harris “on the spot” after learning that he was the mastermind behind ChristianTimesNewspaper.com and its fabricated Sept. 30 article, which reported that there were tens of thousands of “fraudulent Clinton votes found” in an Ohio warehouse.
Harris, who graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina in May, had worked for the Republican delegate since June. He did not return a call for comment, but he apologized in a Twitter post to “those disappointed by my actions” and called for a “larger dialogue about how Americans approach the media” and other issues.
Vogt said he was shocked when he read a story in the New York Times on Wednesday that outlined Harris’s creation of the fake news story. The Times said the article was shared online with 6 million people.
“I was shocked to hear that he could do such a thing,” Vogt said Wednesday evening. “He seemed like a bright young man that was interested in getting involved in politics.”
Harris’s ouster was first reported by the Frederick News-Post.
Vogt said Harris apologized for creating the article. But the delegate replied that he “couldn’t support any dishonesty, regardless of what side you support.”
Harris also worked for Vogt’s failed 2016 bid for Congress and served as the communications director and spokesman for Change Annapolis, a political action committee created last year and aimed at winning more Republican seats in the General Assembly.
According to campaign finance reports filed Wednesday, Harris received $570 in December from the committee.
Harris told the Times that he created fake news to earn money. After investing $5 for the domain name, he earned about $22,000 in online advertising revenue.
In an interview with the Times, Harris expressed guilt for spreading lies but also a sense of pride in doing it so well.
“At first it kind of shocked me — the response I was getting,” he said. “How easily people would believe. It was almost like a sociological experiment.”