If you’re going to tacitly accuse a sitting representative of giving a tour of the Capitol to extremist groups involved in the incursion there, you’d better have some strong evidence.
#Resistance figure Ron Filipkowski did not.
Instead, he circulated a year-old photograph of a newly installed GOP congresswoman to prove she had led “people [who] participated in the insurrection the following day” around the building.
Our story begins with Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill. Sherrill is from the district where I grew up in New Jersey and is the first Democrat to represent that part of the world in quite some time. Thus, I pay more attention to her than the average political observer — which isn’t to say much, given that anyone who pays more than zero attention to Sherrill falls into this category.
That changed on Tuesday, when she claimed, on a webcast for constituents, that members of Congress had guided groups responsible for the Capitol incursion through the building Jan. 5 to do “reconnaissance for the next day.”
Sherrill — “speaking sedately, but severely,” NorthJersey.com noted — said she would work to ensure politicians who “abetted” the mob were “held accountable and, if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”
“We can’t have a democracy if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the elections results,” she said.
“And so not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn’t have access to classified material,” Sherrill said, “I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5 — a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I’m going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don’t serve in Congress.”
“Many of the Members who signed this letter, including those of us who have served in the military and are trained to recognize suspicious activity, as well as various members of our staff, witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups in the complex on Tuesday, January 5,” read the letter, signed by Sherrill and numerous other Democrats.
“This is unusual for several reasons,” they wrote, “including the fact that access to the Capitol Complex has been restricted since public tours ended in March of last year due to the pandemic.
“The tours being conducted on Tuesday, January 5, were a noticeable and concerning departure from the procedures in place as of March 2020 that limited the number of visitors to the Capitol. These tours were so concerning that they were reported to the Sergeant at Arms on January 5.”
Neither Sherrill nor any of the signatories mentioned names when asked by the media. Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan said he knew of “a couple” of names that were being eyed but he was “going to wait to make sure we get verification.”
This is serious stuff with sobering implications behind it. Nowhere near as serious is Ron Filipkowski, internet sleuth, who began his tweeting about the Sherrill accusation thusly:
“Wow! Rep. Sherrill says she saw other Members of Congress leading insurrectionists on guided ‘reconnaissance tours’ inside the Capitol on Jan 5,” he tweeted Wednesday.
Wow! Rep. Sherrill says she saw other Members of Congress leading insurrectionists on guided “reconnaissance tours” inside the Capitol on Jan 5. https://t.co/u54aS4ceOf
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 13, 2021
Disregarding the fact this might not have been the time to begin a tweet with “Wow!”, Filipkowski seemed to settle on a potential suspect: first-term Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.
Boebert took heat for tweeting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California had been removed from the House chambers during the Capitol incursion, with some going as far as to say she was guilty of a crime and calling on her to resign.
The Speaker has been removed from the chambers.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) January 6, 2021
The congresswoman noted in a statement on her website that “this removal was also being broadcast on TV,” but the yarn-and-index-card set put her tweet alongside Sherrill’s accusation and were convinced they’d unmasked at least one of the perpetrators.
On Wednesday, Filipkowski tweeted a photo of Boebert with what he said were some of the Capitol rioters.
“This is a photo that Member of Congress Lauren Boebert posted on her Instagram page on Jan 5. This is the group she then took on a guided tour of the Capitol after this photo was taken,” he tweeted.
“These people participated in the insurrection the following day. At least one has been charged.”
There’s a big problem with this photo, which is why the tweet is no longer up: It was from 2019 and took place at Colorado’s Capitol in Denver.
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) January 13, 2021
Note Filipkowski’s tweet on the left and the story on the right.
This Lauren Boebert picture that’s getting misleadingly promoted as a Jan. 5 pic in front of the US Capitol is actually a Dec. 2019 picture from outside Colorado’s state capitol. Here’s the source article: https://t.co/AtZEteLKmb pic.twitter.com/BuseXXFE9Z
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) January 13, 2021
Also, Boebert told KUSA-TV she hasn’t given any tours of the U.S. Capitol since she became a representative.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, I have not given any Capitol tours except to show my children around where I’ll be working while I’m away from home,” she said.
After Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York echoed Sherrill’s allegations about the supposed Capitol tour during an MSNBC interview, Boebert’s office fired back.
“Congresswoman Boebert never gave a tour of the U.S. Capitol to any outside group or ‘insurrectionists,'” it said in a news release Thursday. “In fact, the only people she ever had in the Capitol with her were her young children, husband, mom, aunt and uncle. Her mother was the only one of those family members in Washington D.C. on the 6th. During the riots, the Congresswoman’s mother was locked in a secure location, not in the U.S. Capitol, with her staff and never left their sight.”
If true, this takes Boebert out of the picture entirely. Either way, a reverse image search isn’t hard, especially if you’re an internet sleuth like Filipkowski. Instead of doing this, he went from “Wow!” to “oops” in a record amount of time.
Filipkowski merely deleted the tweet without an apology. Meanwhile, his lie was retweeted and liked thousands of times before it went down and the image went viral. Also, other tweets in which the Twitter blue checkmark expressly declared GOP lawmakers must be responsible are still up:
These people had a plan, knew what they were doing, and had help from insiders.
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 13, 2021
Sherrill and other members who signed her letter have made a startling accusation based on specific knowledge that authorities will investigate.
Twitter, as Ron Filipkowski proved, will contribute nothing but misinformation to it.
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