Thirty-three-year-old Craig Brittain — whose site IsAnybodyDown.com posted nude photos of women without their consent and extorted between $200 and $500 to remove them, leading to a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission — wants to be Arizona's next U.S. Senator.
He's begging for an endorsement from President Donald Trump. He's attempted to scrub Google results about his revenge-porn past. Bizarrely, he and a colleague created a competitor to Uber called Dryvyng.
And in the course of his life online, Brittain has posted some truly insane stuff:
• An event featuring Snoop Dogg and Tucker Carlson that looks an awful lot like a wire fraud scheme.
• Racial slurs and abuse directed toward others on Twitter and Facebook.
• Some run-of-the-mill conspiracy theories involving Twitter verification, the FBI, and Hillary Clinton.
Below is an extremely abridged list of Brittain's online activity.
1. Brittain's most pressing concern, by far, is what he describes as an ongoing effort by Twitter to shut him up. Brittain complains about online "shadow banning," an alleged way for Twitter to stifle or block his messages from reaching supporters. Because of some entrenched leftist bias on the social network, I guess?
Brittain's war on Twitter takes several forms.
He complains about being denied the coveted blue checkmark that shows he's a verified Twitter user. "If you're reading this, my account is one of the MOST shadowbanned accounts on the platform — please retweet this tweet to defeat censorship once and for all," Brittain wrote on January 11.
He's posted screenshots that appear photoshopped to say that Brittain's account has been suspended for "supporting President Trump."
But Brittain denies this. In an interview conducted over text messages at his request, Brittain wrote, "I didnt [sic] alter that image in any way shape or form. It is the image I got from Twitter."
@SenatorBrittain (getting ahead of ourselves, don't you think?) and another like-minded account, which he says is unaffiliated.
The description for @Brittain2018 says it's an "unofficial fan account" for Brittain's candidacy. Brittain says one of his supporters runs the account.
Tip of the hat to the Arizona Republic's Jerod MacDonald-Evoy, who has diligently called out Brittain for many of his patently ridiculous statements on Twitter, such as the screenshot purporting to show Brittain's account suspended for supporting Trump.
2. Earlier this month, Britain posted an Eventbrite listing for a campaign event to be held at the Phoenix Convention Center. The event included an eye-popping list of unconfirmed special guests, including Milo Yiannopoulos, Ann Coulter, Tucker Carlson, Snoop Dogg, and Run the Jewels.
After people (predictably) called him out, Brittain deleted previous tweets promoting the event, changed the event location to “TBD” and stopped collecting donations from people "registering" for his campaign kickoff. Perhaps he learned his lesson after the previous run-in with the FTC.
But Brittain claims he never collected any donations from the Eventbrite page.
"You couldnt [sic] actually pay to register on the listing, by design," Brittain wrote to New Times. "But we wanted to make that clear that the prices were there for demonstration."
In case this bogus list of guests struck you as a scheme to defraud gullible ticket-buyers, Brittain argues that the whole mess began because of a campaign intern's error. (Brittain says he has over 50 staffers as of this week, who are all unpaid.)
"It is a presale and we listed too much information as we werent [sic] actually selling tickets, the post was meant to build hype for the future event," Brittain explained. Building hype by listing unconfirmed guests, including Bernie Sanders supporter Killer Mike?
"An intern went overboard and posted too much info," Brittain wrote. He apologized to anyone who may have been inconvenienced. Nevertheless, Brittain added that "we got a nice press buzz because of it." You can't deny that flirting with wire fraud is a surefire way to get campaign coverage.
Not content to just blame this unnamed intern, Brittain said that the agents representing his all-star lineup are also at fault. The event has been postponed "due to the agents from half the speakers/acts stalling us," Brittain told New Times, and accused the talent agents of cheating him and reneging on previous deals.
Never fear — the event is still happening, Brittain says. We can't wait.
3. A few days ago, Brittain posted a video on Periscope that consisted of him wandering around the parking lot of Senator Jeff Flake’s office at 2200 East Camelback Road. The title of the video: “Trolling Jeff Flake #MAGA.”
“Let’s see if I can find anybody in this lot who supports Jeff Flake,” Brittain says in the video, pacing around in a floppy hat and aviator shades. The video is 10 minutes long.
4. In November, Brittain visited the offices of news station ABC15 for what he says was an interview with Melissa Blasius, taking some ridiculous cheap shots at the network in the process.
On Twitter, Brittain had this to say about the ABC15 reporters at work: "While at @abc15 I got to see the 'newsroom' — lots of empty desks and interns reading BuzzFeed for stories — this is why independent journalism is soaring and #FakeMedia is dying!"
Hilariously, Brittain got dragged by another network's reporter, Matt Galka of FOX10. "This is a trash tweet," Galka wrote in response.
As for that interview? Brittain claims it never ran because producers at the network are pals with one of his campaign foes, Dr. Kelli Ward.
"[T]hey censored it," Brittain wrote to New Times. "My opponents have paid off the mainstream press not to invite me on or air interviews with me."
"Ward has paid off numerous press pubs to attack me before so it would be no surprise if she did the same with ABC15 where she has many fake news friends," he added.
Putting aside the fact that no legitimate media organization would take campaign cash to attack someone's political opponent, Brittain provided no evidence tying any of this to reality. Ward's campaign denied his claims in November.
Yet he's made these outlandish claims about Kelli Ward's campaign over and over again on Twitter, alleging that Ward accepted a bribe from Senator John McCain to flop in the 2016 primary.
Brittain has also claimed that he was offered a bribe or some kind of material support from a Ward campaign affiliate, and told New Times in November that he worked for Ward's campaign between 2015 and 2016, which the Ward campaign says is false — Brittain volunteered for two days at a 2016 gun show.
I'd like to thank Joe Arpaio for announcing his candidacy,— Craig R. Brittain for US Senate (R-AZ 2018) (@SenatorBrittain) January 9, 2018
Arpaio will take away any presumed advantage Crooked Kelli Ward (who took a bribe from McCain to lose in 2016) has, thus opening an easier path for me to win the election.
5. Brittain claims that his vaguely fascistic campaign graphic is actually not Nazi-inspired. Instead, he says it's an homage to the U.S. Senate logo and to hip-hop group Run DMC, which uses red bars and white text over a black background.
"It has zero to do with extremism," Brittain wrote on Twitter on November 30. "Thanks."
6. Brittain's legion of Twitter followers look awfully suspicious. For one thing, Brittain has more than 100,000 followers, a gargantuan number for someone who's not a high-profile politician or celebrity.
According to TwitterAudit.com, which calculates the likelihood that someone has inflated their follower count using "inorganic, fraudulent, or dishonest means," almost half of Brittain's followers are fake. So either Brittain has purchased a bunch of followers, or there are a lot of bots that love tweets about abolishing federal agencies and decriminalizing marijuana.
Unsurprisingly, Brittain disputes this, saying that he's never purchased followers or used any methods to increase his follower count. He said that TwitterAudit can't reliably tell the difference between a real or fake account because of the site's method used to analyze followers.
"Twitter has clearly gone out of their way to break their own system," Brittain wrote to New Times. "And the reason for that is pressure from left-wing organizations and government intelligence agencies to censor supporters of the President. The FBI and others asked Twitter to ban those accounts at the behest of Hillary Clinton."
7. On several occasions, Brittain appears to have directed abusive language and racial slurs toward others online.
In one instance of online harassment reported by TechDirt in October, screenshots appear to show Brittain calling a woman on Facebook a "cunt" after purportedly matching with her on Tinder. In the messages, Brittain tells her, "Your worthless womanlife [sic] has no fucking value."
Additionally, in a series of Facebook message screenshots obtained by Mic, someone bearing Brittain's name and image directs racial slurs at a venture capitalist. Brittain wrote, "You need to learn to respect and to learn to listen, especially to racially superior people."
In another series of direct messages posted on Twitter, Brittain went on a tirade after someone apparently unfollowed him. "Way to ruin the US for my generation," Brittain wrote. "You shouldn't be able to vote if you're over 45."
"God doesn't exist, either," he added.
Brittain says that these are fake screenshots created by someone with a vendetta against him. He claims the Facebook accounts in the TechDirt and Mic articles were created by an impersonator.
"The imposter made a bunch of fake accounts in my name and eventually Facebook banned them all," Brittain told New Times.
Brittain sent a screenshot of what he says is an anonymous report form from Facebook that shows he successfully got the impersonator banned. There's no way to tell whether the image is authentic or not, nor can we tell whether it was a request to ban the Craig R. Brittain account that was harassing people online, as opposed to some other person.
When we asked Brittain if this was a joke, he said he was making a point about Twitter's (nonexistent) policies that track people offline, Big Brother-style.
"It was a true statement based on Twitter's new policies on real life conduct," Brittain wrote in a text message. "The image was art, designed to make a point. Twitter is using surveillance to keep track of users real-life behavior."
9. Finally, Brittain is convinced he can win the race because of his IQ and Joe Arpaio's old age.
"The only other candidate with an IQ above 100 is McSally," Brittain wrote to New Times. "Someone should conduct a health exam on the candidates too — especially with 85-year-old Arpaio running."