Ald. Mell Staffer Caught Using Fake Account to Pose as Undecided Voter, Mislead and Attack Constituents
Deb Mell’s Streets and Sanitation Superintendent has been using a fake alternative Facebook account to influence debates in local neighborhood groups and attack Mell’s critics.
For the past few months, members of hyperlocal Facebook groups have noticed an extremely aggressive Facebook commenter, “Isabela Lopez,” jumping into every thread that mentioned Deb Mell, along with ones mentioning her democratic socialist opponent Rossana Rodriguez, and sometimes neighboring socialist Alderman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa.
Lopez was banned from several of these groups — including Ravenswood Manor-centric “Ravens Gazette” — for aggressively attacking Mell critics, calling them “commies” and lobbing various insults in their direction.
Lopez would go out of her way to look into personal details of people she was arguing with, tauntingly using people’s surnames and personal information (I went to high school in Skokie) when they were not used on their Facebook profiles.
A friend pointed out that the account seemed fishy, as her “Likes” only listed a few pages, almost all being related to the 33rd race, along with nearby race featuring another Democratic Socialist. The very first page “Lopez” ever liked was Deb Mell’s. On a whim, and during some of the common heated back-and-forths, we began to confront her with our suspicions, invariably prompting Lopez to stop engaging in the thread.
Lopez commented multiple times on local discussions, coming to Mell’s defense, calling criticisms of Deb “fake news,” while asserting that she was an “undecided voter” and “honestly [doesn’t] care about the election.” One example here shows her doing just that when neighbors were discussing Mell’s failure to attend a local candidates forum, and another time in response to a website (http://debmell.money) following the money to highlight Mell’s real estate and machine connections.
One day, I decided the push the issue again. “Lopez” was using her apparent Puerto Rican heritage to make some argument about intracommunal slurs (Queer activist-driven projects “Clean Up City Council” and hit progressive voter guide, the “Girl, I Guess Voter Guide” referred to Mell as a “disservice to white d*kes everyhwere” and straight Mell fans were upset).
I told Lopez I wasn’t even sure she was Puerto Rican, because her facebook profile seems to be a troll account. What came next exceeded my wildest dreams. Mell’s Streets and Sanitation Superintendent, Eddy Fernandez, accidentally responded from the perspective of “Isabela Lopez,” but from his personal account, seemingly threatening to sic his/her husband on me (Fernandez is married to a woman):
Fernandez rushedly deleted his accidental comment about a minute after posting (but not before screenshots were taken) and hasn’t commented as himself or as “Isabela Lopez” since.
Over the months, multiple twitter accounts have popped up to troll socialist city council candidates, dox local housing organizers, and in some cases, to cosign vile misogyny.
This one has 3 followers, one of whom is Deb Mell’s Aldermanic Assistant, Gina Munoz. We can only speculate on whether the pictured account is another Mell staffer, or whether there are more out there…but it does seem certain that Mell’s Streets and Sanitation Superintendent was caught using a fake Facebook account to pose as an undecided voter and troll constituents.
Does Alderman Mell encourage her staff to investigate constituents and harass them online using fake accounts, or do they do it on their own accord?
Does it break some sort of election rule for Aldermanic staffers to pose as undecided constituents to try and shift the conversation in their boss’ direction?