State Rep. Dwight Evans' campaign manager resigned and an aide was fired over a fake Web site created to hurt rival John White. Mayoral candidate and State Rep. Dwight Evans accepted the resignation of his campaign manager and fired another top aide after discovering a connection between his office and a bogus World Wide Web site designed to damage a rival candidate. Campaign Manager Jack Fugett resigned Friday at the same time as Evans fired Deputy Campaign Manager David Sirota, a 23-year-old Northwestern University graduate, after learning that an acquaintance of Sirota's had created the controversial site, which posed as rival John White's official campaign page. The Web site highlighted a quote -- which White claims was taken greatly out of context -- from an interview with the Spanish-speaking newspaper Al Dia. In English, the quote reads: "The black and the brown, if we unite, we're going to control the city." White, a former head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, said that the quote was misconstrued as a racially motivated comment aimed at minority voters, while the intended meaning was that African Americans and Latinos could achieve higher political standing by working together. Both Evans and White are African American. Members of Philadelphia's African-American community have for months called on either Evans or White to withdraw from the race so that the black vote will not be split between them and the race's frontrunner, former City Council President John Street. Though Evans has publically apologized and denied any knowledge of the Web site's creation, the scandal has already taken its toll on this year's election. "It was pretty wild," said White Campaign Manager Dean Levitan. "We had been cybersmeared. We took very quick action letting people know that wasn't our Web site and that the quote was taken out of context. But what really angered us is that the Web site stayed up." Yesterday, Evans explained that he viewed the issue as a closed matter, adding that Philadelphia voters should pay attention to the city's problems instead of the scandal. "As far as I'm concerned, it is put away," Evans said in a telephone interview. "I took the necessary action on Friday when I indicated I wanted no association with it. We've got some very important issues in this campaign and we've got to concentrate on them." Levitan emphasized that White has received a number of positive phone calls in response to an incident he described as "an embarrassment to the city," but which has in turn helped White increase his name recognition among voters. "We've taken a step up as a campaign," Levitan said. "What's important is what we do with it next. People in the streets are calling for support for John and not attacking anyone else. We want to make sure it continues on this path. Right now, it's going very well and it's getting stronger everyday." Levitan noted that the White campaign is not pursuing legal action and is not asking Evans to drop out of the race, but that he would like him to further correct problems resulting from the mishap. "We want him to assess his campaign after this very strong wound," Levitan said. "I don't know what he knew. He said he didn't [know about the Web site] and I have no reason not to take his word. I just wish he had called for the Web site to be taken down earlier. I think he needs to apologize to the people of Philadelphia." David Dougherty, campaign manager for Democratic candidate and former City Council member Happy Fernandez, said that he was unsure of how the scandal would affect the election, but that he hoped the campaigns could return to business as usual. Dougherty described the Web site as "an example of gaining political ground by dividing people," adding that the city would benefit from looking past the incident. "The sooner it's behind all of us, the better," he said. "An issues-based campaign is best for us and for Philadelphia. And anything that detracts from that? is just not in the best interest of the city. We want to continue to talk about the important issues."Comments powered by Disqus
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