Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart’s campaign has, for the past year, made edits to Stewart’s Wikipedia page to remove unflattering information and add more positive messaging.
In an interview with CNN’s KFile, Stewart acknowledged that the changes, made by Wikipedia users “VirginiaHistorian77” and “Publius2016,” came from his campaign. Stewart, who is facing off against former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie in this year’s GOP primary, defended the actions as necessary to correct information on his page.
Wikipedia “strongly discourages” users from editing pages about themselves or about people or businesses to which users have a close connection. A Wikipedia editor raised a red flag on one of the users last October, noting that the user appeared to be close to the subject it was editing. The warning was ignored.
One of the edits removed a reference to a Politifact article that rated “mostly false” Stewart’s claim that he had “cut violent crime in half” by instituting a crackdown on illegal immigration. In its place, Stewart’s campaign added language crediting Stewart with the drop in crime.
In an another edit, Stewart’s 2013 defeat in a race to be the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor was softened with the addition that the loss “raised his statewide profile, which ultimately led to other statewide endeavors.”
In an interview with CNN’s KFile, Stewart said that the campaign was fixing incorrect information.
“We’ve had problems with people going on there and putting false information on there, so we’ve had to keep an eye on it,” Stewart said. “In fact there’s somebody in there who’s put, you know, I cracked down on illegal immigration, I led a big crack down on illegal immigration in 2007, and somebody went in there and said I was anti-immigrant, which isn’t true. So, things like that have to be corrected.”
The campaign also removed information about his private practice as a trade lawyer and added information about where Stewart attends church.
In one case, the campaign added that Stewart’s role in the Donald Trump’s campaign had “thrust Stewart into the forefront of Virginia GOP politics.”
Another edit appeared to spin the reason Stewart had been fired by Trump’s campaign.
Stewart, who served as the Virginia chair of the campaign, was fired after he staged a protest outside the RNC without approval from the campaign. An edit to his page minimized Stewart’s involvement, phrasing his termination as, “refusing to shut down a pro-Trump women’s demonstration protesting the Republican National Committee’s lack of support for Donald Trump.”
One of the users added to Stewart’s page that “many political analysts believe, however, that Stewart’s termination may actually benefit his candidacy for Governor of Virginia.”