Dean Browning, a former Republican congressional candidate from Pennsylvania, made a post to Twitter on Tuesday where he claimed to be a “black gay guy” who voted for Donald Trump because he was unimpressed with Obama’s impact on his life.
Browning is a white man who describes himself as a “proud pro-life and pro 2nd amendment Christian conservative,” but has been accused of running a fake Twitter profile for the purpose of trolling.
Last week Browning tweeted, “What Trump built in 4 years, Biden will destroy in 4 months.” Then in a follow-up response to one of the comments on Tuesday, Browning wrote, “I’m a black gay guy and I can personally say that Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little bit and it was for the worse. Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected — which I never do when democrats are involved.”
Dean Browning, former Lehigh County comissioner who seems to have forgotten to log into his burner account, was about 2,500 votes away from being the GOP's nominee in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional district this year. pic.twitter.com/ftiY68wae6
— Jacob Rubashkin (@JacobRubashkin) November 10, 2020
Browning left the post up for several hours, apparently unaware of the mistake that he made. By the time he did remove the post, thousands of people had already taken screenshots, and he was forced to make a statement explaining the post. Browning claimed that the message in the post was something that he received from a secret Trump supporter who was afraid to share his views in public but did so in a private message for the former congressional candidate.
Next, Washington Post journalist Philip Bump noticed something strange. “You know who replies to Dean Browning a lot? ‘Dan Purdy,’ a gay black Trump supporter who joined Twitter in October,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet. @DanPurdy322 is a now-suspended account with an avatar of a cartoon of a Black man wearing a beanie with a Trump 2020 logo.
dean browning really leaned into some of these tweets pic.twitter.com/sPXCz09jrf
— alex (@alex_abads) November 10, 2020
so from googling it would appear @deanbrowningpa's black guy identity "Dan Purdy" was also once used on the suspended account @soulcookie322. but before that account became Dan Purdy, it was a white guy named "Pat Riarchy" and "White Goodman". dean is really something else pic.twitter.com/gFkUPkNDPV
— food truck drove away with my debit card (@fart) November 10, 2020
The situation grew even more bizarre when Browning posted a video of a man claiming to have sent the original message to him, and claiming to be behind the account. The video has since been deleted from Browning’s page, and the Dan Purdy account has been suspended by Twitter.
so the video was taken down, but here it is in case you want your brain to melt: pic.twitter.com/umGPjt5sN4
— alex (@alex_abads) November 10, 2020
Internet users later identified the person in the video as William Holte, who is also known by the name Byl Holte. Holte is the adopted son and nephew of music legend Patti LaBelle, and he has written a few posts on Medium that were oppositional to social justice issues. Some commenters suggested that perhaps Holte was paid, but he has not commented publicly on the issue. Holte also used the same avatar in many of his public profiles. It is not clear what Holte’s relationship with Browning is, although they do both appear to be from the state of Pennsylvania, and both have similar political views.
The one thing remaining that doesn’t add up about the story given by Holte and Browning is the fact that Browning claimed that he was sent this message by a “secret” Trump supporter who was afraid to share his views in public, but Holte is very outspoken about his views, even making posts about controversial topics under his own name on Medium.