UPDATE: Sexual Assault Charges Against Pete Buttigieg Fall Apart
Update, 8:01 pm: Big League Politics did some investigation into the allegations, and determined that a Facebook user named Hunter Kelly says he was not the author of the Medium post. My doubts about this story appear to have been confirmed.
Update, 8:31 pm: The Daily Beast has new reporting on the hoax:
A Republican source told The Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent.
The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.
Hoaxes such as this tend to backfire. Jussie Smollett's hate crime hoax destroyed his career, all while emboldening Trump supporters who felt they were being universally smeared as racist and homophobic. In 2008, a fake mutilation hoax by a McCain supporter had a similar effect. Whether Pete Buttigieg will use this hoax as proof that conservatives are "scared" of him remains to be seen, but it wouldn't shock me.
Pete Buttigieg, the surprise contender for the 2020 Democrat nomination, has been accused of sexual assault by a 21-year-old named Hunter Kelly. Kelly has come forward in a blog post on Medium, which he also tweeted eight hours ago.
My name is Hunter Kelly. I am 21 years old. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do. For the past three nights, I have not slept even a single hour. I have vomited eight times.
I was sexually assaulted by Mayor Pete Buttigieg. I didn’t know who he was back in February, only that he told me he was an important politician. When I started seeing him on television three weeks ago as a Presidential candidate, I thought about coming forward.
I am a gay man. I have been grappling with my identity for a number of years. I live, work, and attend college in rural Michigan. I know that by coming forward, I will make a hard life even harder. But I must do so — I must do so — for my country, for other gay men like me, and most importantly to stop a very bad man from becoming President of the United States.
He provides no details about this alleged assault, but claims coming forward is the "toughest thing" he's ever had to do, and that he's contemplated suicide for the past two weeks.
As we saw with Brett Kavanaugh and others, anyone can make a claim of sexual assault, and it's easy to jump on a mere allegation and exploit it for political purposes. I for one remain skeptical of this claim without further evidence linking the two. The details provided by Kelly are also suspect. His Twitter account is new, having been created this month, and he offers no corroborating details. Then there's the timing. Kelly claims the assault happened in February. Buttigieg may have officially announced his presidential campaign earlier this month, but the decision to run for president is one anyone would spend months considering. Would Pete Buttigieg really sexually assault a young man while he was contemplating a run for president? I highly doubt it. According to Hunter Kelly's story, Buttigieg told him he was an "important politician," which seems like a strange thing someone would tell a victim if they didn't know who they were.
This is a developing story. We'll have to wait and see if there's any merit to it.