Congressman Adam Schiff has officially withdrawn his support for Glendale City Council candidate Zareh Sinanyan in light of the allegations that became public at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
From Patrick Boland, Communications Director for Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank):
"When this issue was brought to his attention on Tuesday, Congressman Schiff immediately directed his staff to inform the Sinanyan campaign that he was withdrawing his endorsement. In the letter to the Sinanyan campaign from his campaign, Schiff confirmed that he could not support anyone who made such deeply offensive and bigoted statements."The letter sent by Congressman's staff is below:
"It has been alleged that Mr. Sinanyan may have posted deeply offensive and bigoted messages on websites and social media platforms. We certainly hope that this is not the case, and that he has no connection to the vile comments that are being attributed to him.
Until this matter is resolved, however, Mr. Schiff must withdraw his endorsement and ask that his name not be included on any campaign materials. The comments alleged are deeply disturbing and not befitting any member of the public let alone one seeking to represent the city on an elected body."
Here's some background on the allegations that I published on Tuesday: I received a tip about the comments on Monday morning via an anonymous e-mail. I know others in Glendale received the same e-mail, and I've had several people contact me this week (before I published my post) asking if I knew about the alleged comments. So I didn't uncover the comments per se, though I was the first person to publish them besides Sinanyan himself. When I first received the e-mail, I checked and verified that all of the comments were online from the account linked to Sinanyan's name, that all of the timestamps were correct (since some of the posts go back five years), and I verified that all of the information in the screen captures I received was accurate and not Photoshopped. And indeed, all of the comments were publicly available online at Youtube at that time, with that time stamp information, under the name Zareh Sinanyan. I also looked at other comments made by the same account, and there were dozens, maybe hundreds of additional comments, all similarly vulgar. By Monday afternoon the comments started disappearing from YouTube, presumably as Sinanyan got word that people were poking around his comment history. Also, I believe that for most of the account's history, it was an "anonymous" account -- but that Sinanyan unwisely chose to link his YouTube account to his Google Plus account, which retroactively revealed him as the author of the formerly anonymous comments.
I also would also like to highlight criticism of the allegations from the lively comment section under the initial post:
"I can't believe the amount of people who have given these accusations any real merit. What if I took your name and doctored comments on your behalf, passing them out to your neighbors saying you're a thief? What would you do?
These are a fool's attempt to discredit Zareh, who is the right choice for this city."
To address the very valid concerns of this commenter:
I fully agree with you that it would be terrible if someone doctored comments to incriminate a candidate. I am very concerned about that very possibility when dealing with anonymously sourced information. As a result, I took extensive steps to verify myself that all of the comments in the screen captures I received were accurate with what had been published online over a period of many years. In doing so, I concluded that the images I received were not doctored, that the comments were easily findable, on many sites, and part of a much larger pattern of vitriolic comments going back years. Most of the trail of comments is still online in some form. Googling "Zareh Sinanyan" and various obscenities yields many results on many sites over a long period of time.
Additionally, I checked Sinanyan's Google+ profile (The name has since been rather preposterously changed to "Thomas Paine," but the original name is still visible in Google searches. The Youtube account is part of his Google+ Profile), and it lists his Google + connections as M Toumajan, Hovanes Manucharyan, Sarkis Jacob Babachanian, and Stepan Boyajian. I checked Sinanyan's Facebook profile -- the completely official profile through which he comments on his campaign -- and every single one of those people is Facebook friends with Zareh through his official Facebook account.
This proved to me that it was overwhelmingly likely that the Youtube account belonged to the same Zareh Sinanyan and not an impostor or someone with the same name.
The Sinanyan campaign has not addressed the matter publicly. The Glendale City Council will be inquiring into the matter at next Tuesday's council meeting.