Ever seen a political candidate get into a Twitter fight with his opponent’s parody account? Well:
Malden City Councilor and Republican Secretary of the Commonwealth candidate David D’Arcangelo said he knew what he was doing when he engaged in a protracted back-and-forth with a parody account mocking his opponent, current Secretary Bill Galvin.
Some background: D’Arcangelo filed a public records request last May seeking “any and all public records related to Public Service Announcements” featuring Galvin, his image or likeness since the secretary assumed office in 1995. He argues those spots were more about improving Galvin’s political image than providing a legitimate informational service to taxpayers, and that voters deserve to know the costs of the ads.
After first sending D’Arcangelo a letter requesting he narrow the scope of his 19-year request, the department ultimately quoted him a $5,300 bill for the estimated research and reproduction costs necessary to fulfill it.
“This expansive request spans nineteen years, includes a number of records not susceptible to ordinary means of reproduction and requires a search for a significant number of records contained in a version of the Commonwealth’s accounting system that is not currently in use,” a formal reply to the request reads. “This Office has carefully reviewed the voluminous request and has made every attempt to reduce and absorb costs.”
The letter adds that “it would significantly decrease costs if these requests could be more narrowly tailored.”
While agencies have every legal right to require payments for public information requests—especially expansive ones like D’Arcangelo’s—the councilor said the high estimate amounted to a “ransom” that effectively stonewalled his request.
“Frankly your most recent response letter to me...is outrageous and an affront to every taxpayer in the Commonwealth,” D’Arcangelo wrote in a letter requesting the agency waive its fee. “But, even worse, it feels like a shakedown by a powerful politician with something to hide.”
Which brings us to today, when D’Arcangelo engaged a Galvin parody account in a multi-message Twitter argument spat about the request:
Asked about the exchange, D’Arcangelo said he was aware that he had been sparring with a fake parody account.
“@Thelordofthehill tweeted me so I responded,” he wrote, adding he’s followed the account for months and that it often amuses him. “The real Bill Galvin won’t respond so I may as well get into (it) with some kind of facsimile.”
“Considering he’s still arguing...I’d say he didn’t know,” the unidentified administrator of the parody account said when asked for comment via Twitter message.Caesar can be reached at Christopher.Caesar@globe.com or via Twitter @ChrisCaesar.