Scott Weinberg, a right-wing candidate for the Kyrene School District Governing Board in Tempe, had been trying his best to create some kind of social media scandal.
In the past few months, in an apparent bid for attention, Weinberg made dozens of posts on Twitter and Facebook that were arguably racist, misogynist, and transphobic. He blasted feminism and said he used the word "retarded" to intentionally trigger people. He said he believes lockdowns are akin to Nazi policies and people who wear masks are "coronasheep."
But the crush of social-media mobbing that followed his homophobic false accusation of a young man he believed had been arrested as the Westgate shooter last week caused Weinberg to drop out of the school-board race on Tuesday.
"I have decided to withdraw from the Kyrene School District Governing Board race in light of the recent Westgate controversy," Weinberg wrote on Facebook this morning. "In addition to my general apology, I want to apologize directly to the young man I unintentially [sic] misidentified, Arizona State University, The Human Rights Campaign, and the LGBTQ community at large. All campaign contributions will be returned and I will be taking a step back from politics to focus on my family and serving my community in more productive ways."
Weinberg, who lives in the south Phoenix suburb of Ahwatukee, told the Ahwatukee Foothills News in May 2018 that he'd recently had a political awakening following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, three months earlier. He has two young children himself. He began "a politely relentless one-man campaign" for more school resource officers, lobbying for the issue at school board meetings and other meetings in the city of Phoenix, the article says. He soon expanded his mission, and left politeness behind.
Last year, Weinberg was kicked out of a school board meeting after calling other members "cowards." As a member of Purple for Parents, the conservative group that opposes the Red for Ed teachers' movement, Weinberg has criticized a program implemented in Chandler schools designed to reduce racial inequities and engaged in a bitter, long-running Twitter war with Lindsay Love, a Chandler Unified School District Board member who has promoted the program.
In January, Weinberg submitted paperwork indicating he planned to run for the governing board in the Kyrene school district, which includes 25 schools in Ahwatukee and slices of Chandler, Guadalupe, Tempe, and the Gila River Indian Reservation. And he ramped up his bomb-throwing on social media, attacking anything that looked or sounded to him like a liberal. Democratic Congressman Greg Stanton became "Greasy Greg." He made a meme comparing Mayor Kate Gallego to Miss Piggy, part of his ongoing side-campaign to shame overweight women.
Weinberg's campaign-ending mistake started with the horrific-but-short Westgate Entertainment District shooting in Glendale last week that left three people wounded. The shooter, Armando Hernandez Jr., had announced his name in a live-stream video captured before the shooting and his arrest.
Early the next morning, before police confirmed the shooter's identify, Weinberg tweeted: "Since the #AZMedia has refuses to do their job (as usual) here is your #Westgate shooter. He is left-wing LGBTQ @ASU student and a @HRC "Youth Ambassador". I wonder how long until this article gets dumped down the memory hole."
Weinberg attached a photo of a young man with the same name. He was immediately proven wrong, and Twitter users let him know it. But he left the tweet up as it collected dozens of likes and comments, before eventually taking it down and apologizing.
Equality Arizona, a nonprofit group that advocates for LGBTQ rights, said in a statement that, "Mr. Weinberg's attack was not only a lie, it was also an attack propagated on this young person simply because they are an out and proud advocate for equality for all."
"Mr. Weinberg," the statement continued, "you are not fit temperamentally or otherwise to hold public office where it would be your charge to provide a safe school environment for all children, regardless of their family's identities or political affiliation."
Fox 10 News, (KSAZ-TV), was the first to report on Weinberg's false accusation and apology.
"Fox 10 Phoenix put a hit out on me yesterday," Weinberg tweeted the next day. "So now I am being inundated with hate on social media and they are most likely trying to get me fired from my job. I should have done more research before posting the information. I recognized my mistake and apologized, but nothing is ever good enough for the left-wing mob."
Weinberg is a CPA and the forensic accounting manager for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid administrator. He earned $85,000 there in 2017, according to an online report.
A self-described Christian, Weinberg said he would take some time to pray about whether he should drop out of the race. He finally decided to quit today. Weinberg could not be reached for comment.
Lindsay Love has mentioned Weinberg's AHCCCS job in previous tweets critical of Weinberg, and has promoted the hashtag #WheresBecky, a reference to Weinberg's wife. Love said the hashtag had a serious tone, because Weinberg had tweeted that he was a "toxic abuser," and during their feud, "a community member reached out to Scott's wife for a welfare check."
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She admitted that she "got into it" with Weinberg, who tried to shame her for her body and for not having a husband.
"This guy was clearly going for the shock value," Love said of Weinberg's social media posts. "I think that [Weinberg quitting] was winning the battle, there's still this war."
She may be happy that a "dangerous person" like Weinberg isn't going to be on any school board, at least not for a while, but she lamented the fact that he had supporters while spouting "bigoted shit."
"Education does not have to be a partisan issue," she added.