By B.J. Reyes
House Speaker Calvin Say is asking the Attorney General’s office to look into a “misrepresentation and misuse” of the name of the state House of Representatives.
The dispute stems from a group created earlier this year on the social networking site Facebook.
The group purports to be an information site for the House of Representatives, including entries from the journal, a calendar and a directory (complete with photos) of all the members. Most of the information appears to have come from publicly available material already posted on the state Capitol Web site. But cries of “fake” went out last month soon after its discovery.
Georgette Deemer, the House communications director, tweeted (read from bottom up):
Assistant communications director, Thelma Dreyer, sounded a similar call:
Both Deemer and Dreyer administer the Web site/blog for the House Majority, and also are the resident tweeters for the chamber’s Democrats. Neither claimed ownership of the Facebook group.
“I wonder if they are aware that he doesn’t represent the House?” Deemer said of the page’s author.
When reached by phone, Madden said he started the group to answer questions from friends and associates about what he was doing and why he was running for office.
“A lot of people have no idea what’s going on in the state House and people asked me, ‘What does it do? Why are you doing this?’” Madden said. “I looked on Facebook and I could not find a good representation for the state House on Facebook.
“I set that up to show people what’s going on over there and why they should be concerned.”
Madden said he hoped to foster debate and commentary by state representatives and the public on important issues, but the idea has not panned out (although the group boasts more than 180 followers). Madden has started several discussion threads, but has not generated much feedback.
But House Speaker Calvin Say, in a March 12-dated letter to Attorney General Mark Bennett, says Madden is not an employee of the House and has no authority to post such material, adding that he is a self-described candidate for the District 10 House seat.
“I would like to request that your office look into this matter, advise the House of Representatives on how to proceed in resolving the issue, and contact Mr. Madden on his improper use of the House’s name if appropriate.”
Deemer said she contacted Facebook administrators about the page misrepresenting the House, but received no response. She said no one in the House communications office had contacted Madden.
Madden confirmed that he has not had any contact with anyone about removing the page.
“My mission is to create a dialogue,” he said. “If anyone had a problem with it they could contact me.”
He added, “It seems like kind of a non-issue, since I’m the only one blogging on it.”
UPDATE, March 19, 2010: The administrator of the Facebook group has noted that the group is “Unauthorized” and added the disclaimer: “This group is not authorized by the State House.”