Someone using an Internet address from the Department of Homeland Security made edits Thursday to the Wikipedia pages of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Renee Ellmers, alleging that the two members of Congress were having an affair, the Daily Caller reported.
It is not clear if someone at the DHS made the edits, but the changes on both articles were made by a user at the IP address 184.108.40.206, which is registered to the federal agency’s office in Springfield, Virginia. The changes were originally noted by Washington Free Beacon reporter Lachlan Markay.
Umm. Someone using a DHS IP address edited Renee Ellmers' Wikipedia page to allege an affair with McCarthy pic.twitter.com/U88gCiCaK6
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) October 8, 2015
After McCarthy, R-Calif., abruptly dropped out of the race for House speaker Thursday morning, speculation grew online about the reasoning behind his decision, with some journalists and politicians mentioning previous rumors of an affair with Ellmers, R-N.C. Both of them are married to others. McCarthy said he was getting out of the race because he did not want to divide the Republican conference and he believed he was “not the right one” to lead the group.
However, some pointed to a letter from Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., as a possible turning point for the majority leader. The letter, sent Tuesday, urged candidates for Republican leadership to drop out if they had committed “any misdeeds” in Congress so they could avoid embarrassing themselves and the party conference.
“With all the voter distrust of Washington felt around the country, I’m asking that any candidate for Speaker of the House, majority leader, and majority whip withdraw himself from the leadership election if there are any misdeeds he has committed since joining Congress that will embarrass himself, the Republican Conference, and the House of Representatives if they become public,” the letter read.
According to the Daily Caller, the edits to Ellmers’ Wikipedia page read: “Ellmers is alleged to have been involved in an extramarital affair with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy since 2011.” The edits to her page have now been removed, but they included links to articles from the conservative site Breitbart News and GotNews about the rumored affair.
The IP address used to edit McCarthy’s and Ellmers’ pages was also used to edit a variety of other Wikipedia entries, including the page for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, movies and other topics. The Department of Homeland Security has said it is looking into the edits.
“DHS has immediately launched an investigation into this serious matter,” spokeswoman Marsha Catron told the Daily Caller. “If it is discovered that a DHS employee, using government property, is responsible for these alleged actions, immediate and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”
The House Republican Conference is expected to hold a closed-door meeting Friday to discuss the next steps in the process of electing a replacement for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, now that McCarthy is out of the race.
In 2014, Ellmers, who describes herself as "pro-family," won re-election over pop singer Clay Aiken, the former "American Idol" contestant.