Ed Hanlon is at it again. Dupont’s litigious advisory neighborhood commissioner, deck hater, and reformed Hummer driver has filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign Finance, alleging that his own ANC’s Twitter account has violated a D.C. law against mixing government resources and campaign activity.
Specifically, Hanlon, who is the commissioner for single member district 2B09, has taken issue with a retweet of a photo of the 17th Street Festival from ANC2B’s official account. The commissioners mentioned in Hanlon’s complaint have reacted with a collective eye roll. Hanlon has previously been ordered by a judge to pay thousands after filing a frivolous lawsuit in a dispute over his neighbors’ deck. He’s appealing the decision.
The original tweet came from Hanlon’s fellow ANC Aaron Landry, who represents single member district 2B04. In the photo, Landry tagged Patrick Kennedy, one of the five candidates looking to unseat embattled Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans. Kennedy is also an ANC, representing single member district 2A01.
“I love the 17th Street Festival,” reads Landry’s caption above the photo that mostly shows the backs of festival-goers’ heads and booths lining 17th Street NW. Kennedy can be seen standing outside his campaign booth shaking hands with an attendee in a yellow shirt. Ward 2 candidate Daniel Hernandez is also in the photo, but he is not tagged.
By retweeting Landry’s photo showing a campaigning Kennedy, Hanlon argues in his complaint, ANC 2B’s official Twitter account is illegally supporting Kennedy. Hanlon also claims that tagging the Dupont Circle Main Streets’ Twitter account, causing the organization’s name to appear alongside Kennedy’s, makes it appear as if that organization supports Kennedy’s election.
Hanlon has another issue with a different photo tweeted by the ANC 2B account showing its commissioners Randy Downs, Daniel Warwick, and Landry at the ANC’s official 17th Street Festival booth.
“ANC 2B’s official government owned Twitter page should be used only for official communications, such as, posting ANC Agendas, meeting notices, official government advisories to citizens on traffic, schools, weather, etc.,” Hanlon writes.
Hanlon requests that any OCF investigation “look into whether or not there may also have been any attempt at the harvesting of data from ANC 2B’s official government Twitter account.”
Landry, who unseated former commissioner and Hanlon ally Nick DelleDonne and currently serves as 2B’s secretary, says Hanlon’s complaint is politically motivated.
“It’s a stretch,” he says of the complaint. “And we’re of the position that we didn’t do anything wrong.”
Landry provided a link to a photo posted to Facebook of Hanlon and DelleDonne dining with a different Ward 2 candidate, John Fanning.
On Aug. 23, the day after the Facebook photo was posted, Hanlon posted to a Dupont listserv railing against a proposed bike lane on 17th Street NW, which Warwick, Downs, and Landry support. The three of them, along with several other Ward 2 ANCs, have endorsed Kennedy.
“Why are Kennedy’s supporters doing this? WHAT WILL A TWO WAY PROTECTED BIKE LANE MEAN?” Hanlon asks in his listserv post. “It is the bike lobby’s dream – to create a bike thoroughfare thru the middle of our small neighborhood, not to shop in our neighborhood, not to enhance and enjoy our neighborhood, but to ride as fast as possible thru our neighborhood. A highway for bikes and electric scooters. The bollards used to establish these protected bike lanes will make it impossible for this valuable space to be used for anything else, even in inclement weather when cyclists are not using the lanes.”
Hanlon writes that the bike lane “will be dangerous to pedestrians, pet owners and the elderly in our neighborhood,” and that “shopping on 17th Street will become a contact sport.”
He claims that Warwick, Downs, and Landry resurrected the bike lane debate, which was tabled during an ANC meeting last summer, shortly before the 17th Street Festival, and planned to use the debate as a tactic to “lock up the bike lobby for Patrick Kennedy.”
Warwick and Landry say they haven’t discussed the 17th Street NW bike lane in months. And Downs’ Twitter feed is a constant stream of safe-street content.
“I think [Hanlon’s] making it up,” Landry says.
Fanning, for his part, says he talked with Hanlon about the complaint, but does not believe it was politically motivated.
“As a resident and member of the commission, whether he was supporting me or the other four [Ward 2 candidates], I think he would have filed the complaint anyway,” Fanning says. “We had a conversation about him possibly supporting me, and he said he was interested in doing that. And of course I said ‘great,’ but he hasn’t shown up or done any work for the campaign.”
Hanlon has donated to Fanning, and says he also thinks Hernandez is an attractive candidate.
“This is about right and wrong,” Hanlon says of his motivations. “It’s not about which of the candidates it is. It’s always wrong.”
Kennedy distanced himself from the complaint and the tweet, noting that he has no control over another ANC’s social media posts.
“I think it’s clearly a bank shot at me,” Kennedy says. “It seems to be a rather frivolous complaint.”
Kerry Bedard, who says she’s lived in Dupont for the past 30 years, responded to LL’s email to a listserv to express her disgust with the potentially offensive retweet as well as the ANC’s support for bike lanes on 21st Street NW and 17th Street NW.
“I think they should all be made to resign, and there should be a new ANC,” Bedard says in a phone conversation. “None of them are my commissioner. Ed Hanlon is the only one I support, the only one with any rationale.”
In an email to Hanlon, OCF General Counsel William Sanford confirms that his office will investigate.
Warwick, the ANC 2B chair, separately asked the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability for an opinion. BEGA attorney Sonya King wrote in an email that she’s reviewed the post but BEGA won’t take any action. She provided a link to BEGA’s advisory opinion on social media use for District government employees, which does not directly address the circumstances in Hanlon’s complaint.
Warwick, during a phone call with LL, also pointed to several examples of links between District government Twitter accounts and accounts for elected officials currently running for office. In one example, the District Department of Transportation retweeted a photo in mid-August that tags Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, though the photo does not show White actively campaigning.
Warwick adds that Hanlon often doesn’t play nice with other commissioners and suggests that this complaint is another example of his ineffectiveness as a commissioner.
“We have a commissioner who is constantly out to get the commission and not to make our recommendations to D.C. government agencies better,” Warwick says. “Which is the whole point of having an advisory neighborhood commission.”
Hanlon acknowledges the difficulty, but contends that most residents agree with his positions.
“I believe what I’m doing is principled and important,” he says.