Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The saga of the white politician, the bad tweet, and Patti LaBelle's son and/or nephew

Illustration for article titled The saga of the white politician, the bad tweet, and Patti LaBelles son and/or nephew
Screenshot: Twitter

Okay, where to begin here? The tweet, yes. Former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning, a failed Pennsylvania congressional candidate, dropped a tweet on Tuesday that raised plenty of eyebrows. It came after Browning criticized Joe Biden, who the Republican declared would “destroy in 4 months” what Trump “built in 4 years.”

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After a user offered a correction—“You mean what Obama build in 8 years”—Browning replied, “I’m a black gay guy and I can personally say Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little bit and it was for the worse. Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected - which I never do when democrats are involved.”

Fair enough. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But it wasn’t the tweet itself that caused an uproar; it was the picture that accompanied it.

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Yep, Browning is white, leading many to believe that, like many pro-Trump Republicans over the past four years, Browning keeps a “sock puppet” account that spreads MAGA propaganda through what appears to be a Black supporter of the president. Like that extremely horny dude at Fort Bragg, Browning forgot to switch accounts. Or so people assumed.

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In no time at all, online sleuths dug up what appeared to be Browning’s alt: Dan Purdy. Not only was Purdy a frequenter of Browning’s mentions, but he loves to lead off his pro-Trump tweets by declaring himself a “gay black guy.”

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Others dug back further and found “Dan Purdy” has quite the history online.

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Browning denied the allegations, saying he was “quoting a message” from a “follower” he received earlier this week. “Sorry if context was not clear,” he wrote, apparently unaware that people typically use quotation marks when quoting people who are not themselves.

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Browning then tweeted out a video from “Dan Purdy,” who revealed himself to be a Black Trump supporter.

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Illustration for article titled The saga of the white politician, the bad tweet, and Patti LaBelles son and/or nephew
Screenshot: Twitter

The only problem? The man in the video was alleged by many to be someone named “Byl Holte,” not “Dan Purdy.” We visited his public Facebook account (user name: william.m.holte) and were able to confirm that not only does Holte use the same avatar as “Dan Purdy,” but “Dan Purdy” is in all of Holte’s photos, leading one to believe that “Dan Purdy” is Byl Holte. You can also visit Holte’s Instagram here. It’s the same guy.

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Illustration for article titled The saga of the white politician, the bad tweet, and Patti LaBelles son and/or nephew
Screenshot: Facebook

And who else is in those photos?

Illustration for article titled The saga of the white politician, the bad tweet, and Patti LaBelles son and/or nephew
Screenshot: Facebook
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Why, it’s Godmother of Soul Patti LaBelle. According to Google, Holte is her son, but other sources note that he is her adopted nephew. He runs an anti-feminist film blog. It’s gross.

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In the time it took to sort through the above, the account for “Dan Purdy” has been suspended by Twitter. Browning, meanwhile, has yet to respond as of this writing, though his tweet containing the now-inaccessible video remains up.

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The question remains: Was it Holte in Browning’s mentions that whole time? Or did Browning persuade Holte to record the video?

Either way, we’re exhausted.

Send Great Job, Internet fraudulent tips to gji@theonion.com

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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