Fall cleaning: DC’s Eleanor Holmes Norton deletes tweets


Holmes Norton tweet

It looks like the office of Eleanor Holmes Norton just discovered that she has been tweeting to the wrong account, typically when publishing personal and partisan reactions in real time.

Politwoops, a Sunlight Foundation tool that aggregates the deleted tweets of politicians, was flooded with deletions from the Washington, D.C. delegate's congressional account this morning. She deleted 17 tweets so far today, some of which were days, even months, old.

While some of the tweets were mere typos, other tweets were not as insignificant. For example, Norton deleted a post that said “Paul Ryan is the affable face on a budget that’s tailor-made for the 1 percent.” The original tweet was published 9 weeks ago.

Members of Congress are not supposed to use their official Twitter accounts for partisan communications, but many of Norton's colleagues have made and continue to make similar errors

Scott McCrary, the communications director at Norton’s congressional office, the tweets were Norton’s own and were meant for her campaign account. “This came to my attention today,” he said over the phone. McCrary explained that when looking over Norton’s misplaced tweets from last night, other political tweets were discovered on her official account. 

McCrary was unable, however, to provide Norton's personal Twitter account. The link from her campaign website took us on Wednesday to the same official account from which the partisan tweets are being deleted. 

Many of the deleted tweets were Norton’s reactions to the debates. She deleted a tweet from last night that said, “Mitt shot his whole wad in the first debate.” Other tweets were about fundraisers and the Washington Nationals, among other topics.

Norton's boo-boo illustrates how the vagaries of instantaneous communication in a digital age are tripping up even experienced members of Congress. The 75-year-old D.C. Democrat is seeking her 12th term in the House and is a Yale-educated lawyer. As a representative for the District of Columbia, she has only limited voting rights in the House but she has worked assiduously to master the rules of the chamber and to build alliances with other members to advocate for her constituents.