Politics

Communications Aide Trolls Brat Critics on Facebook

In-your-face style draws criticism from some constituents

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., employs a communications consultant who trolls and talks down to his constituents on Facebook from her personal account. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sara James has performed communications consulting for Rep. Dave Brat’s campaign team since the summer of 2014. She now makes $4,000 per month after steady raises over the last three years, according to  FEC documents.

But James has been much more than a campaign manager and social media director: She has also served as Brat’s chief troll-slayer on Facebook, firing back at the Virginia Republican’s haters with the kind of snark and sneer you might expect from anonymous “eggs” on Twitter.

“Read much? Watch the video much? The post isn’t misleading at all if you calm down and actually do either,” she responded in September to a comment on one of Brat’s posts criticizing the congressman for misrepresenting “facts and truth.”

In another instance, James took issue with a commenter who called her an “idiot.”

“I bet you have a coexist bumper sticker — or are you more of an antifa-type?” she said, referring to a popular vehicle decal with symbols from various religions and ideologies.

Brat told Richmond.com Thursday that James handles his events and social media accounts and was his campaign manager for about three months last year.

James, who mostly works remotely from Texas, is “the entire communications arm” of his campaign, Brat said.

Brat's chief of staff, Mark Kelly, told Roll Call Friday that the activist group Liberal Women of Chesterfield, which first highlighted James's comments, is "targeting Dave for defeat" and that "one of their tactics is to go on his social media page and antagonize other people."

James often engaged women from the group in such spats on social media.

Brat has since discussed with his staff and campaign teams how to respond to his critics on social media, Kelly said.

"Dave always tries to keep the tone positive and not get into personalities," Kelly said, and "does not anticipate social media responses will be an issue going forward."

When one woman accused James on Facebook of being a paid troll, she responded: “No I don’t get paid to troll wait. Gosh, wish I did!! I comment on Facebook for fun. :) I love engaging with women like you and Kasey. Because you’re so sweet and pretty and someone I’d love to hang out with. haha!!”

Brat indicated Thursday he did not take issue with James’ combative personal activity on his Facebook page even though she is paid to curate it.

“She can do both. You can be both. Just because you work on a campaign doesn’t mean you don’t get to partake in the political process,” Brat said.

James works seven days per week, day and night, she told Richmond.com in an email. She comments on her bossÆs Facebook page to “debate people who are pushing false narratives,” she said.

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