Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Obama web site assists in phony Letter To The Editor campaign.

The big question that started around the Internet a few days ago is, "Who is Ellie Light?". If you have never heard of her maybe you should check out the Letters to the Editor page in your newspaper. Ellie Light gets around and apparently lives in some 47 cities across the country and she is a really big fan of Barack H. Obama. Sabrina Eaton, a reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio discovered that multiple letters bearing the same authors name, all identical and all supporting Barack H. Obama, have been appearing in newspapers almost everywhere and that story has prompted other people to conduct more searches in their newspapers. Here are links to several stories beginning with the three stories written by Sabrina Eaton on January  22nd, 23rd and 24th.

Obama has suspicious number of letter-writing fans named 'Ellie Light'
By Sabrina Eaton, The Plain Dealer
January 22, 2010, 5:35AM

Ellie Light: Dozens more sightings of Obama's most prolific letter-writing fan
By Plain Dealer staff
January 23, 2010, 3:02PM

Ellie Light responds: Prolific pro-Obama letter writer talks about her online critics
By Sabrina Eaton, The Plain Dealer
January 24, 2010, 9:00PM

Barack H. Obama's web site, Organizing for America has a page devoted to helping his fans write Letters to the Editor to newspapers across the country and supplies the talking points for copy and paste use as well as an automatically generated list of newspapers in the writer's area. All the writer needs to do is enter a ZIP code to generate the list of newspapers and check off which one's to send the letter to. Here is the opening page: http://my.barackobama.com/page/speakout/

Now other groups are checking the Internet for similar letters supporting Obama and dozens more similarities have been discovered.  Here is what the web site Patterico.com wrote:


Ellie Light: Obama Astroturfer? Or Very, Very, Very Energetic But Independent Letter Writer? With Houses All Over the Nation?

A woman has written the same letter defending Obama to dozens of publications across the country, getting them published in at least 42 newspapers in 18 states, as well as Politico.com, the Washington Times, and USA Today. And the woman, Ellie Light, has claimed residence in many of these states.

Think there might be some phony Astroturfing there?

At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sabrina Eaton makes a nice catch:

    Ellie Light sure gets around.

    In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers.Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.

    “It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything,” said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.

    A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California.

    Variations of Light’s letter ran in Ohio’s Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico’s Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina’s The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.

She has more houses than John McCain!

But there are a few more places her little pro-Obama missive appeared, besides those documented.

Like Ben Smith at Politico.
And the Washington Times.
And a blog at USA Today.
And the Sheboygan Press in Wisconsin. And the Stevens Point Journal in Wisconsin — listing an address of Algoma, Wisconsin.

And in addition to the Californian.com link provided in the Plain Dealer story, listing an address in Salinas, CA, there are other California letters with other California addresses.

The letter appears in the Gilroy Dispatch and Morgan Hill Times, both listing an address of San Felipe, CA.
And in Good Times, listing an address in Santa Cruz, CA.
And in TheUnion.com, listing an address of Grass Valley, CA.
And Connecticut’s stamfordadvocate.com.

A letter was sent to a columnist at the local Daily Breeze here in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.

Who is Ellie Light?
I would like to know.
Wouldn’t you?

P.S. If you find other examples, please leave them in comments with a link. Many more updates in the extended entry.

UPDATE: Add the following:

California: The Los Banos Enterprise, listing an address of Gustine, CA.
Maine: In addition to the Maine link above, there is another appearance of the letter in Maine: in the Bangor Daily News, in which Light lists an address of Bangor, Maine.
Maryland: The Baltimore Chronicle.
Massachusetts: The North Adams Transcript, listing an address of Williamstown.

List your additions below.

UPDATE x2: Add these as well:

Connecticut: Another Connecticut paper, in addition to the Stamford listing: the Danbury News-Times. And here’s another: the Greenwich Time a/k/a Ctpost.com. (Address listed is Greenwich.)
Georgia: Gainesville Times. (Her address is listed as Gainesville.)
Massachusetts: In addition to the above, there is The Berkshire Eagle.
New Hampshire: It appeared in the Seacoastonline, which appears to be an online version of several New England papers including the Portsmouth Herald, Exeter News Letter, and others. Light’s address was listed as Portsmouth, NH.
Vermont: Bennington Banner.
Wisconsin: In addition to the above, there is the Oshkosh Northwestern (address listed is Oshkosh).

So far I count 35 publications in 16 states as well as the District of Columbia. Light managed to get herself published in media outlets in California, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

UPDATE x3: redc1c4 adds Spectrum.com in Utah, where Light claims to be from Washington City. That’s 36 publications in 17 states plus D.C.

UPDATE x4: DRJ adds 5 more publications in comments:

    Here are a few more:

    HudsonHubTimes.com, in which Ellie listed Streetsboro, OH as her hometown.
    The Willits News, with Willits, CA as the hometown.
    CDAPress.com of Coeur d’Alene, ID, with Ellie listing a hometown of Post Falls.
    From Ohio, the Chillicothe Gazette, with Chillicothe, OH as the hometown.

    And my current favorite so far, The Bangkok Post — the “World’s Window to Thailand.” No hometown provided.

Idaho is thus included as a new state, bringing the running total to 41 publications in 18 states plus D.C.

UPDATE x4: redc1c4 adds an Annapolis, Maryland publication. Light lists her city of residence as Annapolis. That’s 42 publications in 18 states plus D.C.


And yet another update at Patterico.com on January 24th bringing the total found to 47 newspapers.:

The GreenMountainDaily in Montpelier, Vermont published this:


Anybody in Montpelier know Ellie Light?
by: Jack McCullough
Sat Jan 23, 2010 at 22:40:21 PM EST

UPDATE: Ellie Light surfaced in yesterday's Plain Dealer, but still no answer on who she actually is or where she lives.
This week's issue of The Bridge, Montpelier's local newspaper, has an example of a nationwide phenomenon.
Specifically, it's a letter from Ellie Light of Montpelier pleading for patience for Obama to achieve his objectives.

The trouble with this?

It's the same letter, with the same signature, as has appeared in newspapers all over the country, all giving an address corresponding to the locality where the newspaper is published.

Last, but not least, is the results of research conducted by the staff at WorldNet Daily News that shows there are more people besides "Ellie Light" writing numerous complimentary letters about Barack H. Obama.

"Aside from Light's messages, duplicate pro-Obama letters have been submitted to dozens of publications by writers identified as "Jan Chen," "Gloria Elle," "Cherry Jimenez," "Janet Leigh," "Earnest Gardner," "Jen Park," "Lars Deerman," "John F. Stott," "Gordon Adams," "Nancy Speed," "Sheila Price," "Clarence Ndangam," "Vernetta Mason," "Greg Mitchell," "Ermelinda Giurato," "J. Scott Piper," "Robert Vander Molen" and "Terri Reese."

Just as news of Light's duplicate messages broke, readers began finding various letters written by "Mark Spivey," a man who simultaneously claims to live in San Diego, Calif., and Naples, Fla. His pro-Obama letter, "Considering Afghanistan," was published by the Minnesota Daily, the Baltimore Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune and Naples News."

The Internet and especially the web site YouTube has tranformed politics dramatically in the last few years. Whereas in the old days when the pen was considered mightier than the sword, the Internet can now make a single pen seem like an army. Is this a takeoff on the slogan "An Army of One"?


  1. Holy Cow will that guy stop at nothing ! what a bogus crock of junk I guess with his ratings waning he has to do something to help his popularity ! what a putz!!!
    Thanks I will pass this on!

  2. You can also thank all of these clueless newspapers for printing letters to the editor without confirming the sender's address.

  3. Geketa, I forgot to point out that this web site has been functioning since during his campaign and many of these phony letters may have been written and published across the country to show a wide support for him that swayed a lot of unsuspecting voters.


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