R.I. state agency deletes political tweet - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

R.I. state agency deletes political tweet

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By: Rebecca Turco

Email: rturco@abc6.com

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Questions are arising over a tweet from a staffer at the Rhode Island Department of Health, offering blatant support to Democrats during Monday night’s national convention.

The tweet read: “Inspired. Thank you Sen. Corey Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders for your service.#demsinphilly.” The tweet was sent at 11:08 p.m. Monday and has since been deleted.

Health Department Spokesman Joseph Wendelken says a communications staffer accidentally sent the tweet, thinking it was her personal account. “This was an honest mistake, and we apologize for any confusion that it caused,” he wrote in a statement to ABC6 News.

But the mistake is still concerning public policy group Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. “You can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” said CEO Mike Stenhouse. "I tend to think it was an honest mistake but I also think it's indicative of a larger partisan culture in our state government."

Stenhouse feels the situation would have been fine if the staffer made the post on her personal account, but says state employees should be focusing more on local agendas than federal ones. "The lesson is: let's put Rhode Island first," he said.

Watchdog group Common Cause Rhode Island had a different reaction to the blunder. "Wow, there goes the sort of mistake that any one of us who controls multiple social media accounts for work could easily make," explained Executive Director John Marion.

He is calling on the health department to discipline the staffer in question and make sure a mistake like that never happens again. "We expect the bureaucracy that serves us to be neutral politically in the way they carry out their jobs on our behalf," he said.

The health department has a social media policy in place and Wendelken says the staffer did not violate it.

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