A mystery has formed in the swirling chaos that is Baldwin County’s politically involved social media groups.
On the upstart new “Citizens for Accountability and Honesty” page, a poster named Mary Johnson has been causing stir in the other active Facebook group, the “Baldwin County Citizens for Government Accountability,” who have accused Mary Johnson of being a fake account being fed information from school board members and other Baldwin County School officials.
(I assume they’re still bothered by this currently, but I can’t speak for certain after having been banned from the group after my absurdist column from last week was apparently not taken in the spirit of comedy in which it was meant.)
They’ve asked for someone to look into who could possibly be running the fake account, and since I’ve technically won an award for investigative journalism as of this year, who better than yours truly to look into the matter?
So, after an exhaustive investigation and questioning of several key people that could be involved in the matter, here’s what we know.
Johnson’s profile photo of an adorable kitten was taken from somewhere off the vastness that is the Internet – a reverse image search revealed hits on no fewer than 60 different sites.
The photo of the old house Johnson has posted can’t be found anywhere else, though it does not appear to be located in Lottie, where Johnson’s profile says she lives – in fact, no property record of any kind can be found for a Mary Johnson in that part of the county.
Based on her posts, it does appear Johnson seems to have a more-than-normal amount of information about the school system and its workings, leading some to hypothesize that “Mary” may actually be a false flag account.
Again, based on hours or research, here’s the best potential suspects for running that account:
Terry Wilhite – Baldwin County Schools’ communications director and the No. 1 suspect according to the Citizens for Government Accountability. It’s possible, but given the critical tone Johnson has taken at times on some school board actions, I sincerely doubt Terry would risk his job just to take jabs on social media. Plus, Terry’s often too busy to even return basic phone calls to members of the media; since he’s a one-stop shop for the entire system’s communications, I’m unsure he has the time to be playing around on social media that much.
Tucker Dorsey – Chairman of the Baldwin County Commission. Likely would be privy to information that “Johnson” seems to know and he has a pretty wicked sense of humor that would lend itself to creating a fake account to goad some citizens. However, Dorsey is well known for being extremely forthright in his views and beliefs, so one doesn’t believe he’d need to create a fake account to get his true feelings out. Just ask the folks at GlenLakes about their meeting with him about noise from Barin Field – Dorsey isn’t afraid to tell you exactly what he’s thinking at all times.
Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack – I have it on good authority that “Mary Johnson” was getting data on Shannon Cauley’s school board race almost immediately as it happened, and Mack happened to be in attendance at Cauley’s post-election event. Again, I feel like Mack is not a great candidate to run the fake account, since he’s the sheriff and clearly has better things to do with his time, namely keeping the county safe. Let’s write him off as a definite “No.”
Any member of the Baldwin County Board of Education that’s not David Cox or Tony Myrick – Cox and Myrick actively post in the Government Accountability group and Accountability and Honesty group themselves, so it’s doubtful they’d want to run a fake account. All of the other board members were questioned on the matter and denied the allegation, and I take them at their word. Though some out there have branded them as “crooks” and “liars,” they’ve always be upright and honest with me, so I don’t have a reason to doubt them.
Heather Karras – Outspoken member of the Accountability and Honesty group that is already suspect to the Citizens for Government Accountability. Since there have been instances where Karras has responded directly to Johnson and has had debates with her, this also seems highly unlikely, but I applaud Karras’ commitment to the role if it is, in fact, her.
Cliff McCollum – I can’t rule me out. Given my whimsical, absurdist spirit, it’s entirely possible that all of this is an elaborate ruse to throw the heat off of me. Also, if I have more than a few libations in one sitting in the comfort of my home, all bets are off as to what I may or may not do.
So, whodunit, Baldwin County? Send me your thoughts.
Cliff McCollum is managing editor of Gulf Coast Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.