Cecil residents take bus to Capitol to protest Rep. White's online attacks using false names
HARRISBURG — About 20 people boarded a bus to the Capitol on Tuesday and disembarked carrying signs to protest fictitious online posts by their legislator, state Rep. Jesse White of Cecil.
Among the placards: “Wipe Out White” and “Wake Up Democratic Caucus: Oust White.” Rose O'Neil, a retiree, carried a sign saying: “Jail Jesse.”
“Instead of representing the people in a positive way, he turns to the negative,” said John Campbell of Robinson, Washington County. “People are just tired of it. They want him to resign.”
White, 33, a Democrat, has clashed with gas-drilling companies and acknowledged that he wrote anonymous online posts and created fictional characters on Twitter and Facebook to attack constituents who support Marcellus shale drilling.
Using the aliases, White called his critics “mouth breathers” and labeled industry supporters, including senior citizens, “hucksters.” He called one woman “dumber than a box of rocks.”
White could not be reached for comment, but the House Democratic Caucus released a statement on his behalf.
“There is a time for politics and a time for governing,” White said in the statement. “I remain focused on my legislative responsibilities and on representing all of the more than 60,000 constituents in my legislative district, including those who disagree with me.”
The protesters never encountered White. They marched to his office in the Irvis Office Building, but his secretary said he was in caucus.
Donald Roessler, a farmer from Canonsburg who receives royalties from gas companies, said he sparred with White via the comments section of a local online newspaper where White addressed Roessler through his personal account and various aliases.
“When he would get to the point where he couldn't win a debate, that's when he would switch to the fictitious names,” Roessler said.
Roessler said White told people to boycott his farm because he favored drilling in Cecil.
White apologized to Roessler and another protester, Janice Gibbs, in a statement two weeks ago, but Roessler was not impressed.
“As far as I am concerned, his apology was pathetic,” Roessler said.
Some residents said they asked for White's resignation because of the admission that he used fake names to attack constituents and other lawmakers.
District attorneys in Washington and Dauphin counties have said they are investigating White's online activities.
Robert Handel, a former campaign worker for White, said he was disappointed in White for not following through with campaign promises and called on him to resign.
“There's nothing we didn't do for him. We were there for him every time until we found out what he was actually doing,” he said. “Now we just want to see him go.”
Josh Fatzick is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Unabashed church pastors put politics front and center
- Black Friday chaos dwindles thanks to earlier deals, online sales
- Pakistan’s private schools chief rebukes teenage activist Malala Yousafzai
- Group urges Port Authority of Allegheny County to fund more transit routes
- Contractor eyes early finish to work on New Stanton interchange of Interstate 70
- Penguins lose hard-fought game to Blue Jackets in overtime
- 2 Greensburg properties left on demo list
- $2,000 donated for abused puppies recovering at South Huntingdon shelter
- Convinced Fed will raise rates in December, investors parse meaning of ‘gradual’ increase
- Jeannette trudges through blight
- Greensburg streetlights to be updated, save city $90K