See What You Made Heather Chase Do?!

The following update has been added to The @Shoq Twitter Brigade Burn Notice.

Rather than start with an apology to the many progressive men and women she has thrown under the bus, Heather Chase opens her respondent epistle (.PDF) with an accusation. And it’s a silly one, which is why she later deleted the document:

Matt Edelstein (@Shoq) and Matt Osborne (@Osborneink) have been attempting to portray me as a right-wing plant who was working with Jason Wade Taylor (a.k.a. “Randy Taylor-Hahn”) in order to sabotage the StopRush project.

I have never asserted Heather Chase was a right-wing plant, though I considered the possibility and eventually discarded it. Clearly, she leaked internal StopRush emails and a recording to self-described “right wing operative” Jason Wade Taylor — a fact she does eventually get around to admitting — and I have been very interested to learn her motives for causing such a tremendous shitstorm that hit so many people.

But according to Chase, the harm she did is actually Matt Edelstein (@Shoq)’s fault. Look what he made her do!

Edelstein’s email is an invitation to download the file. He clearly intended the recipients to do so, and I was among the recipients. Therefore it is not reasonable for him to suggest that I took this file without his permission. I have spoken to several attorneys about this (including a criminal defense attorney), and was informed that it is not illegal to give a recording made of someone to the person who was recorded. I did not redistribute the file to other parties who were not recipients of those emails. Taylor redistributed the file; I’m not responsible for his actions. (Emphasis mine)

Facepalm: Heather Chase shared this file without permission, and shared it with someone that StopRush plainly no longer wished to talk to after May 12th. That is quite like sharing a victim’s emails with their stalker. In fact, @Shoq and his mother have both been “doxed” since May by having their addresses and phone numbers published to the delight of his cyberstalking obsessives, of whom Taylor is but one.

When Chase shared material she had no right or obligation to share, Taylor had already extracted personal information under false pretenses and failed to pay for work performed. Yes, says Chase, but we wouldn’t have been raped if we hadn’t been dressed like such sluts. It’s our fault Taylor was a con artist, see? And it was also our fault that she didn’t believe us when we said he was a con artist.

Much of Chase’s passive-aggressive confessional centers on the infamous recording of Taylor posing as “Randy.” Nothing would please me more than someone taking action on this recording, which is why I resisted mention of it for so long. If Jason Wade Taylor feels inclined to press charges or sue, then I am all in favor.

Yes, let the pseudonymous con artist present himself before the bar immediately. Of course, he will have to use his real name and address of record. As I keep asking, how long would a Nigerian con artist last in an American courtroom if they tried to continue their con artist persona in court?

Curiously, despite her protests that no “quid pro quo” existed, Chase admits that she reached out to Taylor, not the other way around. She then offered him the emails and recordings, she says, to avoid being sued. This matches what we already knew about the ridiculous “extortion” narrative, but why would she reach out to Taylor in the first place?

As Chase explains it, she wanted to separate her girlfriends from the madness of the Matts. Besides, she was recovering from surgery and taking painkillers, and she got confused. Yeah, the drugs made her do it:

It was with that wrong read of the email in mind that I later listened to approximately 30 minutes of different parts of the recording (I still haven’t listened to the whole thing, which is over an hour long), and I was extremely confused and alarmed by what I was hearing. What I heard was Edelstein badgering Taylor to give him money, interrogating him about his family, and Taylor reacting with what seemed to me to be understandable astonishment, anger, and confusion.

When I re-read the email, I realized that I was looking at a recording he had made without consent and an email where he was volunteering me to go basically spy on this guy in his office, and I started to panic. I checked with Imani and she came to a similar conclusion. I talked to my non-political friends and my family about it to get an outside perspective, and they agreed it appeared Edelstein had gone over the line and may have opened me up to a lot of trouble. I was very worried. (Emphasis mine)

Chase eventually did check out Taylor’s bogus claims of an Ivy League relative, one of the two “family members” Chase was asked to investigate. But she doesn’t make this connection for the reader, nor does she draw a dozen other connections that don’t form the picture she wants readers to see.

Rather than reach out to me, or StopRush, or Matt Edelstein — rather than read the very StopRush emails she gave to Taylor! — and find out that “Randy” had repeatedly blown real-world meetings and failed to pay for work performed, or that his story about owning a firm had not checked out, or that his blog was entirely plagiarized, Chase decided that @Shoq’s request for her to visit the downtown building where Taylor claimed to house his firm was a bridge too far.

She made a mistake, but it’s not her fault — it’s ours:

The role greed played in this was in keeping me from being willing to accept the fact that “Randy” was misrepresenting himself even when it ought to have been obvious to me that his stories were ludicrously inconsistent with a legitimate funder. I am not proud of this at all, but I believe I am being judged rather harshly for a human weakness Edelstein seems to have shared with me. (Emphasis mine)

In other words, she thought he really was rich, which made him a better and more trustworthy person than @Shoq. Not her fault!

It is true that Chase is also a victim of Taylor. We might have commiserated as fellow victims once; there was a moment in February when I felt like we might all be friends. But that was before she blew up @Shoq’s relationship with his girlfriend, a matter which caused him to get loud on the phone with Chase. Yes, the “abuser” story gets more play in Chase’s narrative framework, because getting mad at someone who keeps abusing your trust is itself a form of abuse. See how that works?

Readers may recall that in the more unpleasant passages of this burn notice, I included some racy material from the enormous file folder I had assembled with my friends. Muckraking is often a dirty job, and the potential ramifications of Heather Chase’s role in the release of StopRush correspondence were extremely concerning to those she had let down.

So when I learned that Chase had told @Shoq a story about being a globetrotting “escort,” I became even more alarmed — but not because I believed her. I was actually worried that it might not be true, and I even shared this hypothesis with others.

Mind you, I have an established history of nonjudgmental blogging in regards to sex workers. Nor was it my intention to dress Chase up as a “duplicitous whore” (her words, definitely not mine). Rather, I was alarmed over the possibility of a honey-trap — one in which @Shoq’s “white knight” tendencies may have been used against him. After all, if Chase was so turned off by @Shoq’s flirtations (as she now maintains), why would she tell him this very personal information about herself? Her story doesn’t add up. Her stories never did add up.

And there was so much else. For instance, this mysterious anonymous email about @Shoq that started circulating on May 21st:

Let me begin by telling you who we are, and what we do. The group, Wistful Women is a social media watchdog comprised of women who have suffered abuse at the hands of men on the internet that have taken advantage of our standing in the world of business and media.

It has come to our attention that you are personally involved with Matthew Edelstein, aka ‘Shoq’ as he is known in all areas of social media. It has been brought to our attention that he has blackmailed many women in the past, and is currently doing so again.

During our investigation, which is still ongoing; we have found out from very reliable sources that he has been recording phones conversations with various women who are in high profile positions. What he intends to do with the countless emails, and phone recordings one can only speculate; what we do know is what he has done to women in the past. [REDACTED] is a perfect example of what he is capable of, and we don’t want to see that happen to you or anyone for that matter.

We have also found out that Matthew and his brother have two pending lawsuits against them, along with that we have countless emails where you were included in the group discussing an illegal recording that he has already made, and has distributed to many people including yourself. He has put many good people in jeopardy for the simple reason that many state and federal laws have been broken.

We have emails as early as yesterday 5.20.12 and we will attach one along with this letter. We don’t want to see any more women hurt, or taken advantage of. There are a number of both men, and women that are currently pursing cease and desist orders against Mr. Edelstein in the hope that he will stop his abuse of innocent people.

Thank you for your time, if there is anything we can do to help please feel free to email us anytime.

Sincerely,
Hanna Roberts

(Emphasis mine)

That is not “Randy,” who Chase met the next day. The lack of grammatical errors is proof enough of that. Who is it, then? The choice of “wistful women” seems strange; abused women are not wistful, which is defined as yearning or longing in the melancholy Madame Bovary sense. So who is writing this smear? The answer is that after a years-long whispering campaign on the left, this email is simply another riff the same old theme — but informed by events that were still not public at the time. 

Given Chase’s habit of blowing up @Shoq, was it possible that she was responsible, or knows who is responsible? I needed to ask her many questions, but by the time I was ready to approach Chase, she had already blocked me on Facebook. Many of her friends who orbit around ABL were already blocking me on Twitter and spreading rumors about me. My emails to ABL were showing up in anonymous Pastebins, and Heather Chase was already supplying information to Lee Stranahan.

The war was already underway, and no one was interested in talking to me at that point — because I was “creepy:”

I remind the reader that I had been dealing with any number of fake people for several weeks when this exchange occurred. Yes, just as it was “creepy” to contact the “relatives” that “Randy” named as references, or to visit the place where he supposedly employed dozens of people, or to pressure him for evidence that he was actually a rich benefactor of liberal causes, it was “creepy” to make sure that Heather Chase is her real name before I talked to her.

Apparently, what I am supposed to do is be trusting and not do thorough background research on anyone who calls themselves “progressive.” Because that worked out so well with Taylor, right?

Chase’s source for the above DM exchange is @dvnix, to whom I attempted to explain the problem I faced. The exchange took place before the Democratic National Convention, where ABL finally met Chase in the flesh. More than anything else, I believe, this DM exchange is responsible for the now-widespread notion that I have been calling Chase a “right-wing plant” — which I did not. I merely speculated on the possibility when I told @dvnix that Chase had assisted “Randy,” and that I needed to know why.

The mention of @dvnix also gives me an opportunity to close an important cognitive loop for some readers:

That’s Darshann (@HoneyBadgerLA), who is @dvnix’s girlfriend and one of @Shoq’s accusers. They look happy; I hope they do well. They used to be my friends, but then someone came along looking to blow up those friendships — and Chase helped them do it. She has managed to ensure that many of those same former friends are now invested in the ridiculous premise that @Shoq “abused” a con artist and cyberstalker, and that this somehow proves that @Shoq abused Chase, and that her solid record of blowing him up is his own fault. See what he made her do?

Chase minimizes the role greed played in all this. I suspect there was also a tremendous reserve of butthurt involved, but she has not admitted to it. I agree with Chase that she lives much closer to Jason Wade Taylor than I do, and has much more to actually fear from him. But rather than appear apologetic for her actions, she seems happy that @Shoq’s real name was outed. Because abuse!

He does not seem to be capable of regarding women as full human beings. It has not yet seemed to occur to him to think that with so many women willing to speak out in public about his behavior, perhaps it is worth considering whether it is at least possible that the problem might be his, and that this problem has contributed to and complicated other problems he has had.

I find this a curious construct, because @Shoq was treating Julie (a woman, and Taylor’s first victim) as a full human being when he scambaited and recorded “Randy.” He was also trying to protect the many progressive men and women with whom Taylor had formed contacts in the course of his scam — because he considered them full human beings. And Chase’s former female coworkers at TeamU tell me that her possession of their personal information is a frightening thing:


I was eventually able to gain access to Chase through an intermediary, and she confirmed many of the details that I presented in the previous update. Some mysteries were simply insoluble without her direct input, however, which is why I am actually grateful to her for finally speaking up. She now denies assisting Taylor after June, which is probably true; she denies doxing StopRush participants, which is probably true as well.

But I remind the reader that ABL was inoculating everyone to my “conspiracy theories” while Heather was still communicating with Breitbart.com blogger Lee Stranahan. And the phrase “conspiracy theory” shows up in the oddest places:

That is part of the email in which ABL overrode the TeamU board to formalize their organization’s relations with “Randy.” At the bottom of the email chain, we find a glorious example of his writing style:

Both ABL and Chase have explained away this episode as a “conspiracy theory” since the moment they learned StopRush considered “Randy” a fake. It was still a conspiracy theory even when they finally figured out for themselves that “Randy” really was a fake and not “you’re friend.” It was a conspiracy theory when ABL decided that my writing about Brooks Bayne was really an attack on her, and of course it is still a conspiracy theory today.

Any hypothesis or factual narrative that does not begin and end with Heather Chase being pure as the driven snow is a conspiracy theory. Because abuse!

While Chase’s Google document contains a passive-aggressive confession of sorts, most of her 10,660 words strike me as further evidence that she was never acting in good faith. Furthermore, I have yet to see ABL — who claims that Heather never does anything without her knowledge! — apologize to anyone, or take responsibility for what Chase did in her name.

Episodes like this one almost always involve the cover-up of matters that would diminish with honesty. So here is some honesty: rather than wait to set Jason Wade Taylor on fire in my blog on June 12, I should have done it on May 13. It was only at the request of Taylor’s embarrassed victims in StopRush that I waited so long, as burning him didn’t become “necessary” until the recording story emerged in The Trenches.us.

I will also own what I wrote about Chase in pursuit of the truth: I didn’t have a photograph to look at when I wrote about the “erotic picture” she sent @Shoq, just an IM chat log in which he called it erotic — and his distinct impression, with the benefit of hindsight, that she never really had good intentions when they flirted.

But if she wants me to explain why I told so much about her, the answer is that she told me nothing at all until I told everything I knew. That non-communication explains a lot about the investigation of Heather Chase. For instance, Taylor’s “Seth Plate” Facebook personality is friends with several gaming profiles. Given that gaming is one of Chase’s favorite things in life, she shouldn’t be surprised that this drew the attention of Anonymous diggers interested in Taylor.

Without her input, how are people to know it’s a false lead unless we check it out? Yet to Chase, this is evidence that we don’t know what we are doing. It’s what information-gathering looks like when you find that the other side is too busy manslut-shaming a Twitter cat to talk to you.

I would love to move on to lessons learned for netroots, and have this ridiculous blogwar finished. That is hard to do when the only communication I have is an “apology” that somehow makes Chase’s actions the fault of everyone and everything else. Thankfully, I have garnered lots of new material in the days since Chase posted and then deleted her response, so this bonfire of Twitter vanities WILL update.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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