An Internet address originating from the Department of Homeland Security was tied to entries made on the Wikipedia pages of North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers and California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, alleging that the two Republicans were having an affair.
It is unclear if someone at the federal agency actually was behind the edits, which were first noted by Washington Free Beacon reporter Lachlan Markay. But both changes — McCarthy’s and Ellmers’ — show that a user at the IP address, 126.96.36.199, made them on Thursday.
That address comes from DHS’ offices in Springfield, Va.
An alleged affair between McCarthy, the House Majority Leader, and Ellmers, became the source of intense speculation on Thursday after McCarthy announced in a closed-door meeting that he was dropping out of the race to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House. (RELATED: Rumors On The Internet Swirl As McCarthy Abandons Speakership Race)
Both McCarthy and Ellmers have denied the affair.
In explaining his bombshell decision, McCarthy said that he is now unable to lead House Republicans and referred to comments he made last week that the House Select Committee on Benghazi has caused Hillary Clinton to suffer in presidential polls. Despite those remarks, McCarthy was still considered a lock to win the Speaker race.
But one turning point for McCarthy seems to be a letter from North Carolina U.S. Rep. Walter Jones urging Republicans running for leadership positions to drop out of the race if they have committed “any misdeeds” in Congress.
“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,” Jones states.
As Markay noted on Twitter shortly after the announcement, a user with an IP address from DHS edited McCarthy’s and Ellmers’ Wikipedia page referring to articles about their alleged affair.
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
The edits read, “Ellmers is alleged to have been involved in an extra-marital affair with Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy since 2011” and link to articles from Breitbart News and GotNews, an independent website published by Charles Johnson, a former Daily Caller contributor.
Johnson reported earlier this year that sources told him that McCarthy and Ellmers were having an affair. Johnson also reported that Ellmers’ attorneys slapped him with a “cease and desist” letter earlier this week.
The agency’s IP address is tied to edits on a number of other Wikipedia pages. Some of the edits were for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s page. Other edits were found on pages for a variety of movies and other miscellaneous topics, suggesting that edits could have been made by rank-and-file employees.
A spokeswoman for DHS says that the agency is looking into the edits.
“DHS has immediately launched an investigation into this serious matter,” Marsha Catron told TheDC. “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.”
This article has been updated with a comment from DHS.