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Friday, October 06, 2006

Wild Bill rides again

Quick kudos to Okie blogger, Wild Bill featured in The Oklahoman today for his work in uncovering the Istook aide who was involved in the Foley scandal. Here's the article for those who don't want to register to read it.
State blogger IDs figure in scandal

By Bryan Dean
The Oklahoman

William Kerr can’t afford to buy a cafe mocha at Starbucks.
He has to find an electrical outlet for his beat-up laptop because the battery doesn’t work. But Kerr used his laptop this week to write a blog post that started a national media frenzy and led to threats against him and his family.

Kerr, 32, of Moore is the blogger who Wednesday revealed the identity of Jordan Edmund, a 21-year-old working for Rep. Ernest Istook’s gubernatorial campaign who may be involved in the Mark Foley congressional page scandal.

Kerr posted Edmund’s name and age, along with a rundown of how he connected the Californian with sexually explicit instant messages from Foley. By Thursday, the negative comments on his Passionate America blog had gone too far. One threatened to hunt him down. Another posted a picture of Kerr’s 11-year-old son.

The blogger, who goes by the name “Wild Bill,” took down the comments after his son’s picture was posted.

“I’ve been bashed before,” Kerr said. “I knew it was coming. My wife didn’t think it was funny.”

‘The pieces all fit’

It started simply enough. Kerr was reading the news online late Saturday or early Sunday - he’s not sure whether it was midnight or not. He was reading an ABC news transcript of instant messages between Foley and a former House page.

Something about the tone of the messages didn’t seem right to Kerr. Some of the messages seemed edited, and it wasn’t clear whether some of them were sent before or after the page’s 18th birthday.

The page’s replies made Kerr think the attention from Foley wasn’t entirely unsolicited. In some cases, the teen stayed online for more than an hour exchanging explicit messages with the Republican congressman.

“If you are a victim, why don’t you just turn your instant messenger off?” Kerr said. “I pretty much believe the kid was egging him on the whole time. He saved every single one of them to his computer.”

Efforts to reach Edmund on Wednesday and Thursday were not successful. His attorney, Stephen Jones, said his client has left Oklahoma.

By entering a slightly different Web address, Kerr found a different version of the transcript that showed the former page’s America Online screen name.

He enlisted the help of another blogger to look up the AOL profile for the screen name. It had a first name, Jordan, and a home state, California.

After three more days of Internet sleuthing, Kerr and his fellow blogger, who prefers to go by the name “Ms. Underestimated,” had connected the screen name to Edmund.

“The pieces all fit together on the MySpace page,” Kerr said.

In addition to circumstantial evidence linking Edmund to information the page had shared with Foley - both played lacrosse, for example - Kerr also found out Edmund was living only miles down the road in Oklahoma City. Edmund’s MySpace site also said Edmund was working as Istook’s deputy campaign manager.

‘I was reckless’

Kerr began to prepare for the possible ramifications of his discovery even before he posted it.

A Del City native, Kerr attended Douglass High School. He said he spent less than a year in the Navy before being honorably discharged for what he calls, “a personality disorder.”

He doesn’t try to hide his past; he pleaded guilty to burglary in 1994 and once was arrested for possessing marijuana. The burglary charge was dismissed in 1997 after he had no further run-ins with the law, according to court records.

“I was reckless,” Kerr said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.”

Kerr moved to Kansas City for a few years before returning to Oklahoma about a year and a half ago. That’s when he started his blog.

Kerr calls himself a conservative, and the posts on his blog reflect his ideology. He began working for an Internet radio station this summer. It doesn’t pay the bills, though.

Kerr is a stay-at-home dad. He hates the idea of putting his kids in day care. So he and his wife try to make ends meet on less than $20,000 a year.

“We might go broke,” Kerr said as he wiped tears from his eyes. “We’re on food stamps. If we go broke, we go broke. But my kids aren’t going to day care.”

Kerr said he didn’t begin looking into the Foley scandal with the thought of making money. He hopes his work could lead to a better radio job.

“There’s no conspiracy here,” Kerr said. “It was just two idiots on the Internet who started finding stuff and thought it was a cool treasure hunt, and it turned into something.”

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