Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg‘s campaign has long faced difficulties with his record on race. He has struggled to gain the support of black voters, and his campaign also faced criticism for using a stock photo of a Kenyan woman to promote his Douglass Plan to address racism in the U.S., USA Today reported.
Lis Smith, the Buttigieg campaign’s senior adviser, is now being accused by social media users of running a fake Twitter account claiming to be a Nigerian that supports Buttigieg. Although Smith has denied that the account is hers, that hasn’t stopped an onslaught of accusations from social media users who continue to highlight the many curious tweets from the allegedly Nigerian account.
Journalist Jonathan Myerson Katz noted the account’s “totally normal follows,” which included disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti, journalist Jennifer Rubin, Buttigieg’s National Press Secretary Chris Meagher, and Buttigieg himself, who was curiously the first follow.
“Oddly, the Nigerian Pete Buttigieg superfan who recently tweeted in @lis_smith’s voice for some reason just protected their account, so I can’t link to this tweet where they promoted an interview with Smith tweeted, so far as I can tell, by only three other accounts,” tweeted editorial director Tim Marchman.
Editor and writer David Klion noted that Smith uses “y’all” a lot and pointed to the fact that the alleged burner also uses the phrase.
This reddit account linked to Lis Smith’s alleged Nigerian twitter account. They have been all-in for Pete for a few months, but before that they only ever posted about bitcoin and sockpuppet recruiting. pic.twitter.com/yYenqqz1IF— Mt. Obey (@mtobey) February 16, 2020
“If there’s really a Nigerian out there who sleeps until 5 pm on Sundays and spends all their time tweeting about Mayor Pete and Lis Smith we need to get their family involved, because that’s the bleakest existence I can imagine,” wrote editor Tom Ley.
Journalist Walker Bragman noted that Buttigieg’s campaign previously faced criticism for falsely claiming the endorsements of black South Carolinians.
“Now, senior advisor Lis Smith has been accused of engaging in digital blackface — running a fake Nigerian account…wow.”
Bragman is referring to the report from The Intercept that highlighted the Buttigieg campaign’s decision to credit his Douglass Plan to prominent black figures, including Ivory Thigpen and Johnnie Cordero, both of whom later said they did not endorse the former South Bend mayor, or his plan.
Buttigieg has also been accused of ignoring accusations of racism during his time as South Bend mayor. A joint report published by The Root and The Young Turks claims that black officers reportedly brought up alleged discrimination in South Bend’s police force, but they were never addressed. Letters were allegedly sent to the Board of Public Safety (BOPS), the city’s legislature, and the mayor’s office to no avail.