An aide to Northwest Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz wrote a bill with help from a conspiracy theory subreddit devoted to white nationalism and President Donald Trump.
Devin Murphy, a Republican staffer for Gaetz, actively solicited input and advice from r/The_Donald, a Reddit forum known for harboring discussions and sentiment of overt racism, white supremacism, Islamophobia, and neo-Nazism.
This week, Gaetz co-sponsored House Resolution 477, which calls for the Attorney General to investigate alleged misconduct and collusion by former FBI Director James Comey and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The amendment repurposed a resolution from House Democrats Pramila Jayapa and David Cicilline that requested information on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the firing of FBI director James Comey.
Subsequently, Gaetz and other Republican sponsors turned the request for information into an investigation of Comey and Clinton.
The Gaetz amendment asks for the appointment of special counsel to look into, “the propriety and consequence of immunity deals given to possible Hillary Clinton co-conspirators” and “James B. Comey’s refusal to investigate then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding selling access to the U.S. State Department through Clinton Foundation donations.”
On Thursday night, three Twitter users exposed Murphy for soliciting help writing the legislation from users on the notorious conspiracy theory forum. Murphy posted frequently on the subreddit under the pseudonym of Devinm666, at one point posting an image of his official government identification as proof of his identity.
WIRED reported Friday night that the Twitter users — @regress_ceej, @TrashWeightlift, and @espressoself — discovered the identity of the Gaetz staffer after they suspected Murphy’s frequent activity and insider knowledge of the legislative process.
Since the outing of Murphy, his account has since been deleted. Shortly before midnight Friday, Murphy began deleting all of his past comments.
A review of the proposed legislation sponsored by Gaetz shows that the suggestions and solicited comments by Murphy from r/The_Donald are echoed in much of the proposed amendment.
Murphy also shared Islamaphobic views on the conspiracy subreddit, referring to President Barack Obama as “Barry o’Islama.” In subsequent posts, he refers to the president as a “Kenyan Muslim,” and refugees in Germany as “raping savages.”
The forum Murphy frequents and contributes to has repeatedly been accused of offering a safe harbor where racists and white nationalists can congregate and express their views, much the same way that Trump’s campaign is said to have mobilized and emboldened those same groups. The forum is home to many explicit comment threads.
“Devin is a staffer in our office,” Gaetz said in a statement. “It is the responsibility of our staff to gather as much information as possible when researching a subject and provide that information for consideration. We pride ourselves on seeking as much citizen input as possible.”
The bill has since been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and hasn’t yet been scheduled for a vote.