Lansing: Fake Twitter account pokes fun at budget director Nixon; Nixon says it comes with the territory

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan budget director John Nixon doesn't have a Twitter account, but like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he has attracted a tweeter pretending to be him.

The FakeJohnNixon Twitter account started up last week and already has posted around 150 tweets.

The fake account notes that Nixon is Michigan's highest-paid state employee and is consuming Michigan's economy "one big gargantuan bite at a time." It adds, "Just call me Budget Crunch." It had only 23 followers as of Sunday afternoon and was following 41 other Twitter accounts.

A tweet from Thursday reads, "If pension tax doesn't pass, Gov to start mugging old shoppers in supermarket parking lots."

The tweet was a sarcastic reference to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal to end the exemptions for most pension income from the state income tax.

Nixon, whose annual salary is $250,000, had not seen the tweets, many of which contain profanity or pointed criticism of the governor's policies, until alerted to it by The Associated Press. A spokesman said the 38-year-old budget director had little to say about it.

"When you're in the public eye, these types of things come with the territory, especially in this social media-driven day and age," Ken Silfven said. "John has a great sense of humor and realizes that it's not meant to be taken seriously."

A FakeRickSnyder Twitter account also has been started recently and contains similar tweets, although fewer have been posted so far.

Columbia College assistant journalism professor Dan Sinker started a fake, profanity-laced Twitter account during Emanuel's run for Chicago mayor that attracted 39,000 followers.

Emanuel, President Barack Obama's former chief of staff, is known for his acid tongue and use of profanity, so the tweets seemed in character.

In contrast, Nixon's language during his first two months as Michigan budget director has been anything but salty.

Published: Tue, Mar 15, 2011