As website attacks Montgomery councilwoman, supporters fight back -- Gazette.Net



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This story was updated at 2 p.m. on March 6, 2013.

An anonymous website allegedly “unmasking” the actions of Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin has her supporters taking to the web to defend her.

A petition created by Council President Nancy Navarro has began circulating to show support for Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring.

“We will not let cowards tell lies about our friend Valerie,” Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring wrote Sunday. “Join me and sign this petition to show your support for Valerie. She stands up for us every day and it’s time for us to stand up for her.”

The site, registered in late February as www.valerie-ervin-unmasked.com or valunmasked.com, contains postings about the councilwoman under a banner that cautions readers to “watch out for Valerie Ervin.”

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) came to Ervin’s defense Wednesday, issuing a statement condemning the attacks.

“I find the outrageous and highly personal attacks against Councilmember Valerie Ervin appalling,” he wrote in the statement provided by county spokesman Patrick Lacefield. “There is no room in Montgomery County politics for anonymous smears of public officials and community leaders — whether by mail, email or via internet web sites.”

Leggett challenged those behind the site to own up to their work and went on to acknowledge the role of diverse views in politics.

“A lively exchange of views and perspectives is healthy for the body politic. Smears and slander bring political discourse down into the gutter,” he wrote. “No person of good will should have anything to do with it — and all should reject these offensive tactics.”

Many politicos in Montgomery to received an anonymous text message Sunday before the annual Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee’s brunch urging them to “see the truth about Valerie Ervin. Read http://valunmasked.com now.”

Neither Ervin nor Navarro returned requests for comment.

“What you see is not what you get,” according to allegations on the site. “Valerie’s political career is all about saying one thing and doing another. Pretending to support people only to abandon them for personal gain!”

Ervin took to Twitter and Facebook on Monday thanking Navarro and her other supporters for their reaction. In her letter, Navarro said she was told many people deleted the anonymous message about Ervin.

“I am thankful to have a friend like @nancy_navarro. Thanks to everyone who inspires me to keep going,” Ervin tweeted.

Registered in late February through GoDaddy.com’s Domains By Proxy privacy registration service, the creator of the website is not available in the public database of website administrators. GoDaddy’s service keeps the site’s creator off the database by listing proxy contact information in the database instead of the creator’s personal contact information, according to GoDaddy.com.

Among the site’s headlines were allegations that Silver Spring drug-maker United Therapeutics paid Ervin’s way to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last summer.

Ervin’s January campaign finance report reflected that her campaign reimbursed United Therapeutics $1,461.63 in September for travel expenses.

Another post questioned why Ervin worked for Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Dist. 4) of Fort Washington, earning $6,000 as a consultant to Edwards’ campaign from August to November. Edwards’ financial disclosures show three separate payments to Ervin of $2,000 and documents obtained by The Gazette show the Montgomery County Ethics Commission approved Ervin’s employment with Edwards in September.

Ervin’s employment with Edwards closely coincided with her Dec. 6, 2012, repayment of a $4,746.21 tax lien against her home and personal property.

kalexander@gazette.net