My name is Robert Chapman, I’m from Caribou and live in Augusta, and I’m not affiliated with any political entity.

I am Darth Mueller.

Under that name, I write at a Twitter account that, since December, I’ve been running as a “troll reporter,” hoping to get the Maine Republican Party to comment on negative, racist, anti-immigrant and misogynist tweets made in their name on the Maine politics Twitter forum known as #mepolitics.

You know some of my work. Recently, it was the subject of news articles about Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro, after I, as “Darth Mueller,” publicized his now-infamous tweet taunting Parkland, Florida, high school shooting survivor David Hogg to “eat it.” Before that, my Darth Mueller tweets showed Maine House District 57 candidate Les Gibson calling Hogg’s classmate Emma Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian.” (Gibson has since pulled out of the race.)

But I’ve been at work for months, all on my own time, and I’ve steadily built a following. Politicians either follow Darth Mueller (@TrumanChapman27) or block me. The media have approached me. Hundreds of people have reached out to say thanks or send tips.

It was clear by mid-March that a whole lot of people wanted Darth Mueller to have information that could pain the Maine Republican Party. But nobody has advocated bullying, publishing anyone’s contact information online or scaring anyone. In Isgro’s case, nobody, not me or any of the people helping me, has asked for anything but an apology. We didn’t want him fired, or even recalled. We wanted him to be decent.

Apparently that’s a lot to ask.

Gibson and Isgro have faced consequences for their social media behavior, although the official Maine Republican Party is characteristically aloof. Their director, Jason Savage, responding to Isgro’s tweet, said officially, “It’s not something we can get in the middle of.”

Isn’t it?

Those tweets made national headlines and had repercussions, but the Maine Republican Party has long tolerated – and, therefore, nurtured – awful behavior on social media. Anonymous “GOP” accounts that affiliate themselves with the party in Androscoggin County, Waterville, Lubec and other Maine communities constantly tweet out bigoted, false or misleading stories and, sometimes, ugly personal attacks.

They retweet known white supremacists. They delete tweets if they get pushback. They’re often vulgar, and their anonymity gives cover to public figures in the Republican Party – including Savage and politicians like Isgro, Gibson and state Rep. Larry Lockman. Nastiness from the Maine party has become a normal part of #mepolitics, yet party leaders won’t step in.

That’s frustrating. I know Republicans in Maine – good people – who are hurt and embarrassed by the antics of those who are supposedly their leaders.

That’s why I created “Darth Mueller,” a name derived from a cruel tweet aimed at me a while back. From accounts with Maine GOP handles, I collected tweets full of distortions, lies, hate, obsession about immigrants and, more recently, the Florida teenage shooting victims for my “troll reports,” always with screen captures of their original posts. Recently I even created another account, @WatervilleMEGOP, to show how a kinder, gentler Maine Republican Party could get out of the gutter by condemning Mayor Isgro’s hard-hearted tweet. On my own, paid by no one.

It helped being anonymous, fighting fire with fire. Someone sits behind accounts like @AndroGOP and @WtvlGOP so they can protect their identity – so would I.

But bullies are gonna bully.

At first they just made fun of “Darth Mueller.” Once they were pretty sure who I was, though, they brought me back to middle school. I grew up overweight, and that seems to trigger bullies of all ages. They found photos of me and created parody accounts. They made fun of my body, with mayo jokes and bad Photoshops. No facts – just my outward appearance. I was embarrassed but not deterred.

They’re not thinking of Republican strategy or real Mainers’ needs. They’re spending energy shutting down someone whose sole purpose was to amplify their own social media posts. My plan was simple, but it worked. What I didn’t envision was that someone would come to my home, take pictures of my wife and child and post them online, to terrorize me and my family.

So it’s time to declare myself: My name is Robert Chapman, I’m from Caribou and live in Augusta. I am no paid operative, but a lifelong Mainer, a husband and a father. Just a concerned citizen who doesn’t want Mainers to be so misrepresented anymore.

I am Darth Mueller. Who are you?

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