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Brown adviser confesses he’s Twitter’s CrazyKhazei

Senator’s potential rival demands an apology

Alan Khazei’s campaign called on Senator Scott Brown to denounce his adviser’s tweets and apologize to the public. Alan Khazei’s campaign called on Senator Scott Brown to denounce his adviser’s tweets and apologize to the public.
By Glen Johnson
Globe Staff / August 25, 2011

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For nearly a month, Democratic Senate candidate Alan Khazei has been mocked by a “CrazyKhazei’’ Twitter account that pretends to represent his voice and offers sometimes-nasty statements about the news of the day.

“Just got back from sunny California,’’ read one July 31 tweet. “Thanks to all the elitists there for donating to my campaign.’’

Another read: “I promise not to join the National Guard. Unlike Scott Brown, I will spend all my time with real people in Washington.’’

And a third tweet said: “I promise to devote all my time in office to making gay videos. Shame on Scott Brown for focusing on jobs!’’

Now the author has been unmasked.

Eric Fehrnstrom - a senior campaign adviser to US Senator Scott Brown, the Republican whom Khazei hopes to challenge in next year’s election - sent out a “CrazyKhazei’’-type tweet Tuesday from his Twitter account.

That kind of mistake can happen when a person with multiple accounts chooses the wrong distribution channel on social media aggregation software such as HootSuite or TweetDeck.

“I’m excited to announce that Cindy Creem is the newest hire at my charity, Be the Change,’’ read the tweet posted by @EricFehrn at 8:05 p.m.

The post pivoted off a pair of Globe stories this week. One said that Khazei, founder of City Year and Be the Change, had hired his brother Lance to work for the latter charity. Another reported that his campaign had been endorsed by state Senator Cynthia Stone Creem of Newton.

The tweet was subsequently removed, but not before Blue Mass Group and Kevin Franck, spokesman for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, pointed it out on their own Twitter feeds and blog posts.

In an e-mail, Fehrnstrom admitted yesterday that he was the person behind the “CrazyKhazei’’ tweets, but did not apologize.

“It was my Twitter account,’’ he said in an e-mail. “Sometimes we take our politics too seriously, and this was my way of lightening things up. As they say in politics, if you can’t stand the tweet, get out of the kitchen.’’

Neither Brown’s campaign manager nor his US Senate communications director responded to a request for comment on Fehrnstrom’s actions.

The Khazei campaign called on Brown to denounce the tweets, demand that the Twitter account be closed, and apologize to the public.

“Instead of launching anonymous personal attacks against Alan Khazei, Senator Scott Brown and his team should focus their time and energy on growing our economy and putting Massachusetts citizens back to work,’’ Emily Cherniack, Khazei’s chief of staff, said in a statement.

“Voters are cynical about the political process because politicians in Washington have spent more time on name-calling and tearing each other down than they’ve spent working together to move the country forward,’’ she added.

Fehrnstrom’s involvement is somewhat ironic, given his simultaneous work for Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.

Having previously served as the former Massachusetts governor’s communications director, Fehrnstrom is now advising the Romney campaign on strategy and helping to devise its ads.

The episode highlights one of the perils of working for two candidates.

In recent weeks, the Romney camp has been pushing back on talk that the White House would attempt to paint Romney as weird in the campaign.

The suggestion was enough to prompt Obama adviser David Axelrod to declare he would fire campaign employees who did so.

In this case, it appears, a Romney aide promoted the idea that Khazei is not only weird, but crazy.

In addition to Fehrnstrom, Rob Willington, a former executive director for the Massachusetts Republican Party who has also been working for Brown’s reelection campaign, also appears linked to “CrazyKhazei’’ shenanigans.

Domain-name records show that Willington registered the CrazyKhazei.com Web address in January. It has not been activated, but the address could be used if Khazei were to win the Democratic nomination.

Reached by phone yesterday morning and asked to comment, Willington said: “I just got off a plane in Washington. Can I call you right back?’’

The call was not returned in the ensuing six hours, and a follow-up call from the Globe to Willington’s cellphone bounced to voicemail after the first ring.

Glen Johnson can be reached at johnson@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.