The Ricky Vaughn Witch Hunt

By Pedro Gonzalez

Douglass Mackey inherited an ordinary upbringing in the small town of Waterbury, Vermont, home to some 5,000 souls. It’s even the site of Ben & Jerry’s first factory, built in 1985.

After graduating from Harwood Union High School, he attended nearby Middlebury College, a longtime beacon of progressive teaching and learning. Mackey left the elite school in 2011 with an economics degree and put verdant Vermont in rearview for Brooklyn’s concrete jungle, where he took a job in 2012 at John Dunham & Associates, an economic research firm.

Nine years later, authorities would arrest Mackey in West Palm Beach, Florida, on federal charges of election interference.

The Department of Justice alleges he unlawfully used social media to deprive individuals of their right to vote through a disinformation campaign during the 2016 election. The complaint charges Mackey under Section 241 of Title 18, the civil rights conspiracy statute. Specifically, federal prosecutors accuse Mackey and unnamed co-conspirators of using memes to create confusion about the voting process, by claiming Hillary Clinton supporters could vote by posting on Facebook or Twitter or texting a number.

Somewhere between Vermont and New York, Mackey picked up the pseudonymous persona of “Ricky Vaughn” and put a self-styled alt-right twist on Charlie Sheen’s character from “Major League.” As “Vaughn,” Mackey transformed from a mild-mannered cosmopolitan consultant into a Twitter provocateur. In the lead-up to the 2016 election, he was part of a group that created viral memes like “Draft our Daughters,” which suggested Clinton would start a war and make women eligible for the draft. Mackey amassed a large following on Twitter despite repeated bans.

The MIT Media Lab ranked “Ricky Vaughn” as a more important influence on the 2016 election than NBC News or Stephen Colbert—which arguably says more about them and their content than him. At any rate, Mackey managed to remain anonymous until 2018.

Though much ado has been made of his political views, they are immaterial to the crime Mackey has been accused of committing. On the other hand, it’s somewhat ironic that Mackey was outed by Paul Nehlen, an alt-right former congressional candidate, amid an intra-movement dispute.

As a kind of moderate within the movement, Mackey opposed the use of real-world confrontational or violent methods, unlike fellow travelers like Christopher Cantwell. Andrew “weev” Auernheimer, another member of the alt-right, accused Cantwell of being a federal informant during the spat. Cantwell, in turn, accused Auernheimer and Mackey of conspiring to undermine the movement. Apparently frustrated with Mackey’s criticisms and calls for moderation, Nehlen revealed his identity.

On April 5, 2018, the Huffington Post’s Luke O’Brien published the first detailed profile of Mackey following the dox, connecting the dots between “Ricky Vaughn” and the Middlebury grad behind the avatar. Though O’Brien mentioned the Cantwell-Auernheimer-Mackey dispute, he did not note that Cantwell had already confessed to being a federal informant before the Mackey exposé went live.

Sometime after the disastrous 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Cantwell began talking with …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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