It’s not every day you write a Letter to the Editor in response to your own column, but it’s also not every day that a state senator takes part in bizarrely accusing a concerned constituent of being – excuse me while I laugh – “an alt-left extremist.”
That’s a new one.
Some background: I was one of about 20 people who signed a column published in The Santa Clarita Valley Signal on Saturday that criticized state Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Dante Acosta for grandstanding at a freeway construction photo-op after denouncing and voting against another recent transportation infrastructure bill that would support similar projects around the state.
To our group of neighbors and friends, this seemed like a clear example of political two-facedness, and our letter was firm but respectful – a message with one voice from many in the community who are sincerely concerned about the way we’re being represented by Acosta and Wilk.
Hypocrisy like that has no place in state politics. Neither does intimidation. Yet that is exactly what Sen. Wilk endorsed and encouraged this weekend when he stood by and gave the thumbs-up to a group known as “Right On SCV” as it engaged in a strange act of outright harassment.
The tweets began not long after our column appeared on The Signal’s website. “Lol @Breznican making lame excuses for Sacramento fraudulently wasting our infrastructure money, then raising taxes on the middle class.” That (misleading) message from @RightOnSCV appeared Saturday morning, and before even I saw it, it had been liked by Sen. Wilk’s personal account (one of only three to acknowledge it.)
Curious, I looked at the website for Right on SCV, which lists both Acosta and Wilk – as well as Wilk’s wife, Vanessa – as “contributors.” Scott Wilk has eight columns on the site, so he is clearly aware of who this group is. And the many personal photos and observations he shares on his Twitter account prove that he is definitely the one managing his own account.
For the next two days, @RightOnSCV continued tagging me with hostile messages while also trying to draw in and target others, including the company where I work, school board member Christy Smith (who will be challenging Acosta in 2018, but has no apparent connection with Wilk) and The Signal’s own publisher, Charles Champion. “Sad that @Breznican has less time in Santa Clarita than @SCVSignal sorta owner and classic car enthusiast Chuck Champion.”
I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it suggests to me that whoever was behind this was trying to gather information about how long my wife and I have lived in our home. Creepy. But … whatever. The internet is full of trolls; I can handle that.
What disturbed me more was discovering that Senator Wilk was watching and abetting this tweet-storm. As a husband and father, how am I to interpret that?
One of the tweets, said this: “The clock is ticking @Christyfor38… do you support alt-left extremist @Breznican or are a normal person. We know you see this. …”
That tweet was personally liked by Wilk, the only person to do so.
Another message, sent moments after that one, said: “When will @Christyfor38 denounce black mask wearing alt-left extremist @Breznican? Our community does [sic] need this kind of violence!”
I never thought libel could be so LOL. Of course it’s not just false but deranged. If Wilk’s attack dog has seen someone around my home wearing a mask, that would be my 4-year-old son, who’s really into Ninjago these days.
Joking aside, it was stomach-turning to realize that Sen. Wilk was watching along and encouraging this sideshow.
I guess I “Got Wilked,” to borrow the senator’s campaign slogan.
It was an effort at overt intimidation, pure and simple – over a newspaper column he didn’t like. But if his skin is so thin that he can’t absorb mild criticism over an infrastructure bill he opposed, maybe he shouldn’t be in politics.
I await Sen. Wilk’s apology for his part in endorsing this harassment. And I call on him to denounce and sever ties with this bizarre organization behind those ridiculous, unhinged messages.
In the meantime, I’ll be reaching out to the state Legislative Ethics Committee. The people deserve to know more about Wilk’s connection to a site that attacks voters on his behalf – with his apparent blessing.
Anthony Breznican is a Valencia resident.