Rhoads Admits Involvement in Cutler Files
After seeking to have his identity kept secret for months as the Maine Ethics Commission investigated complaints against the Cutler Files website, Thom Rhoads, the man identified as John Doe I in Commission documents and the husband of former Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate Rosa Scarcelli, has admitted his involvement in the site.
Rhoads' partner in the website, Dennis Bailey, recently admitted his own involvement after being fined by the Commission for violating state campaign finance law.
In a public statement, Rhoads attempted to limit the political reprecussions for his wife's career. He claims that Scarcelli "had no involvement in this endeavor" and that when she found out about his activities was "extremely disappointed."
Rhoads did not address the Commission's claim that he attempted to sell the opposition information he had gathered on Cutler to another campaign, except to say that he was never paid for his research.
Rhoads had previously denied involvement in the site. “I can unequivocally state that I am not the author, owner or creator of The Cutler Files, nor did I post any information on it or any other website. ... I don't know why my name is being brought into this. It's pure rumor,” he wrote in an email to the Portland Press Herald.
While the first part of Rhoads' statement may have been technically accurate, depending on how the site was administered, as the main source of the information for the website he obviously did know why his name was being brought into the dicussion.
Several news sources had already confirmed Rhoads' involvement and Cutler attorney Richard Spencer recently asked the Commission to publicly confirm the identity of Rhoads as John Doe I.
Scarcelli sent out her own statement about her husband's role in the site, saying that she "found out about the website at the same time everybody else did, long after my campaign for governor ended with the primary election."
"When I first learned about the website, I confronted Thom and Dennis Bailey," said Scarcelli. "I indicated that I was disappointed in their actions and thought they should take down the site. I did not want to be associated with an anonymous website."
Rhoads' full statement:
At the urging of friends and family, I have decided to make a statement today to explain my involvement in the so-called “Cutler Files” web site. I have waited until today to speak out in order to first allow the Maine Ethics Commission to make its final determination.
I have fully cooperated with the Ethics Commission’s investigation and am gratified that I have been cleared of wrongdoing.
While I was not the author, creator or owner of the website, I assisted the person who was. As a private citizen, I performed independent research on my own time and my own accord. Although I did not create the website itself, much of the information I found eventually became a part of that website.
I stand by the content and research I performed. The accuracy of information I found has not been disproved. I believed then and I believe now that it is important that the public have the information – news articles and other public documents – in order to make an informed decision regarding the next governor of the state of Maine.
I am not a professional researcher. I was never paid for my research, nor did I pay anyone else for what amounted to printing out articles I found using one of the most common (and free) computer applications in the world – Google.
In the interest of protecting my family and respecting the Ethics Commission's process, I kept my identity private until this point. But at the urging of friends and family – most significantly, my wife – I have come forward.
I want to be clear – my wife had no involvement in this endeavor. When she learned of it, she was extremely disappointed. She asked that I cooperate fully with the Ethics Commission investigation – which I have done – as well as come forward to the public – which I am doing today.
No candidate or campaign had any involvement with my research activities, or participated in the website in any way. My actions were entirely my own. Period.
Even though anonymous speech is legal and often appropriate, I also understand that an important part of campaigns should be disclosure, transparency, and personal responsibility.
I remain extremely proud of my wife and the positive campaign that she ran in the gubernatorial primary, based on new ideas and finding a new way to get Maine working again.
I’m glad the Ethics Commission has completed its work and I look forward to moving on.