NJ candidate withdraws amid harassment controversy

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016
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A reporter for the website the Daily Beast exposed the writer of obscene posts towards her as a GOP candidate for the West Deptford Township Committee.

WEST DEPTFORD TWP., N.J. (WPVI) -- A candidate for office in Gloucester County, New Jersey has dropped out of the race amid a controversy involving a series of harassing social media posts.

The West Deptford Township Republican Party said Michael Krawitz, a candidate for township committee, notified them of his withdrawal via a hand-written note.

"I am officially withdrawing as a candidate for the Republican Party in the election on November 8, 2016 for West Deptford Township committee," the note, written in pen on blue paper, reads.

The township's party officials confirmed the authenticity of the note, which is signed by Michael Krawitz.

The controversy began when Olivia Nuzzi, a reporter for the website The Daily Beast, exposed some very nasty and obscene social media posts directed towards her.

On reads: "[Expletive] You. Olivia, I. Hope. Somebody. Rapes. You. Today. :)."

Another comment reads: "Hope. You. Get. Raped. By. A. Syrian. Refugee. :)"

Action News went to Krawitz's home to ask him about the posts. A woman there told us he was home and went to get him.

"Michael, Dann Cuellar is here," the woman said before closing the door.

We waited and waited and knocked on the door. But then the woman returned and said, "He's not here."

Krawitz is quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying that it was not him, but a hacker who posted the offensive comments.

But Nuzzi tells Action News, Krawitz has been trolling her since 2014.

In a post dated August 10, Krawitz asked Nuzzi on Facebook: "How's. The. Gun. Crime. In. Democrat. Chicago. Oliva. You. Ugly. Stupid. [Expletive.] :)"

Each of the comments are marked by periods after every word and a smiley face.

Action News spoke with Joann Priga, the woman running with Krawitz for council, to hear what she had to say about all this.

"I have no comment," Priga said.

We asked if her if she was still going to run with Krawitz for the position.

"I am running. I have no comment. Thank you," Priga said.

In a statement to Action News, Olivia Nuzzi says:

Reporters, particularly female reporters, are frequently subject to harassment from internet trolls. It strikes me as unprecedented that such a troll be given the legitimacy that comes with a spot on the ballot as a Republican, the minor nature of the position he is seeking notwithstanding. I've been covering Donald Trump since before he formally launched his candidacy and, given that, I've been on the receiving end of a lot of colorful hate mail. However, I've never had a candidate for public office essentially call for my rape or assault before. I do believe in free speech, and so in my view, it's up to the Republican Party of West Deptford and the voters to decide if they want this man representing them. I have faith that most voters in New Jersey and around the country disapprove of hateful rhetoric of this nature. As a reporter, bullying of this kind from would-be politicians makes you fear for your First Amendment rights. As an American and a woman, it makes you fear for the state of our country and the safety of half the population that inhabits it.