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DPS critic linked to fake Seawell email

An EdNews analysis of Internet records links a local publisher and longtime DPS critic to two emails sent in recent weeks to Denver Public Schools staff and others, including one email that may appear to be sent by school board President Mary Seawell.

The email address used by Guerin Green, the publisher of neighborhood newspapers in Northwest Denver and in Cherry Creek, is the contact on the account that registered maryseawell.com, the domain used to send an email critical of Denver Public Schools and its bond proposal to thousands of DPS employees on Oct. 16.

Green said his company registered the domain name but that he had nothing to do with the content of the site or with sending the related email.

“Just because my company may host a website doesn’t mean we have anything to do with the content,” he said.

He declined to release the identity of the person or persons for whom he registered the domain name, saying “That’s information that we could keep confidential with our client.”

Seawell, an outspoken advocate for the bond issue, said she received dozens of phone calls and messages after the Oct. 16 email was sent. It also went out to some DPS parents and others active in the district or Denver education circles.

Seawell declined much comment on Green’s link to the email, saying she was investigating online records and exploring her legal options.

“I want to make sure I have all the information before I jump to any conclusions,” she said.

In addition, online records show a total of four domain names hosted on the same IP address as that of maryseawell.com. The other three are stopdpsdebtnow.com, charterpimps.com and thecherrycreeknews.com.

Both maryseawell.com and stopdpsdebtnow.com are listed as held by Domains by Proxy, a company that allows those registering websites to keep their identities secret. Green is listed as the contact for both charterpimps.com and thecherrycreeknews.com, the online home of the newspaper he owns.

Asked about stopdpsdebtnow.com, Green replied, “What is that?” and added, “My company has registered probably 100 websites.”

The first email, sent Oct. 3, includes the subject line “Save our schools from drowning in debt” and lists three concerns about the district’s financial state, including “Denver Public Schools is $25,000 in debt for each child currently in school.” It directs readers to the stopdpsdebtnow.com website, which contains no information about who’s behind it.

The email is listed as coming from “foerign@stopdpsdebtnow.com” and contains no signature or author. Green said he did not author the email or create the website’s content.

In response to the email, David Suppes, the district’s chief operating officer, sent an email to district staff refuting the “misinformation” in the Oct. 3 “spam” email and noting, “Our AA credit rating is clear evidence of the soundness of our financial situation.”

That prompted the Oct. 16 email to DPS staff and others, this one purporting to come from “dpsboardpresident@maryseawell.com” and describing Suppes’ email as “spam.” At the end of the lengthy email, which is critical of the district and its bond proposal, is the signoff: “Not the real Mary Seawell (obviously).”

The site, maryseawell.com, is blank. In previous weeks, the URL had directed viewers to the stopdpsdebtnow.com site.

Seawell said she was not aware of the site bearing her name until a reporter pointed it out to her several weeks ago. Online records show it was created Sept. 15. Green linked to maryseawell.com from a Cherry Creek News story posted online Oct. 2.

Green, who has two children in DPS neighborhood and magnet programs, is a longtime critic of DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg and his predecessor Michael Bennet. More recently, he has taken aim at Seawell, posting Sunday on the No on Denver 3B Facebook page that she has become “the etch-a-sketch, say anything Mitt Romney of Denver politics … the worst of politics in a smiling, patronizing package.”

No on Denver 3B, a group organized to fight the bond proposal, has denied any involvement in the emails sent to DPS staff and others. Earleen Brown, a spokeswoman for the group, said, “We have attached our name to all communications from the campaign.”

Friday, the political blog site ColoradoPols.com was the first to link Green to the fake Seawell website. The post also describes Green as an “ally” of DPS board member Andrea Merida, who also opposes the DPS bond measure.

Merida and Green have worked together in the past, including passing out fliers outside a Stand for Children meeting and creating a blog post criticizing DPS reforms that appeared on a Philadelphia school news website.

But Merida denied any involvement in maryseawell.com, stopdpsdebtnow.com or the two emails sent to DPS staff and others.

“I have nothing to do with it,” she said in response to an email asking for comment.

EdNews reporter Julie Poppen and technology specialist Jon Sisk contributed to this report.

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