Spring Grove school board member denies tweeting slur

Christopher Dornblaser
  • A Spring Grove Area School District board member said he was hacked when his Twitter posted a slur this week.
  • A student, Amy Gunzelman, didn't believe him, and also said his other Twitter posts were ofensive as well.

The Spring Grove Area School District board member who criticized a Dallastown church for a "Blessed Ramadan" sign last summer is under scrutiny again after a slur was posted on his Twitter account earlier this week.

York County Republican delegate Matthew Jansen called the pastor of a Dallastown church after seeing their sign wishing Muslims a "blessed Ramadan."

On Monday, the Twitter account for Matthew Jansen, who also was an elected delegate to the Republican National Convention, reportedly tweeted, "Well than this wetbacks family should be thrown out of the country," in response to an article from Breitbart, a conservative news website.

The article was about the California State Senate leader reportedly saying half his family was in the U.S. "illegally."

Jansen, who has been a school board member since December 2015, denied tweeting that, saying that his account was hacked.

York County Republican delegate Matthew Jansen passes through the hallways during the Iftar service Friday, June 24, 2016, at the Hadee Mosque Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in Harrisburg. Jansen, who recently made negative comments about Islam to a Dallastown pastor, apologized to the muslim community during the service. Amanda J. Cain photo

Jansen: Reached by phone Wednesday, Jansen claimed he was asleep when the tweet was posted.

“My side of the story is that I think somebody compromised my Twitter account,” he said.

He emphatically denied sending the tweet, saying it was a complete "smear job."

Jansen said when he discovered the tweet, he was shocked. He called the language used "terrible" and "incendiary."

"I didn't exactly know what to say," he said.

Jansen reiterated that he would never say the word being used.

“It’s just so foreign from the way I talk,” Jansen added.

He said he immediately reported it to Twitter as a hack and filed a complaint saying a tweet was posted that he did not write. He said he has been seeing these hacks happen to others who share from Breitbart and the publication's editor, Milo Yiannopoulos.

“All of these attacks had a negative connotation towards nationality Mexican,” he claimed.

He said his phone was having issues lately, and that might have have led to his account being compromised. On Thursday he said he changed his Twitter account password, and made it private.

Jansen said the country is divided, and a tweet like this wouldn't help anything.

Spring Grove School District board member Matthew Jansen's Twitter reportedly posted this early Monday morning. Screenshot courtesy Amy Gunzelman.

"This isn't fixing it, I would have never posted this," he said.

Jansen told the school district the same thing, according to a district official.

“The information that you saw under his Twitter address was not his writing," Lisa Smith, Spring Grove community relations coordinator, said Wednesday afternoon. Smith said Jansen had informed the board president of the hack.

Attempts to reach other board members for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Pastor shocked by Spring Grove Area board member's message

Issue: Amy Gunzelman, 16, a junior at Spring Grove Area High School, took issue with the post on Jansen's Twitter.

"I called him out for it, I said, 'Why do you think this is acceptable to post?'" she said.

The first tweet was posted at about 12:30 a.m. Monday, according to a screenshot Gunzelman gave to The York Dispatch.

What appears to be an explanation of the slur appears on Jansen's account at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to another screenshot from Gunzelman.

"It's a term from the 1950's used in the Eisenhower Administration, Operation Wetback. But inappropriate now. My apologies!" the tweet reads, according to the screenshot.

The two tweets have since been deleted from Jansen's page.

Jansen said he tweeted that out when he was trying to figure out what had happened to his account.

Gunzelman said after about 10 minutes Jansen figured she wasn't going to let it go and said he was hacked and someone else wrote it.

She said outside of the "hacked" tweets, she has taken issue with other things Jansen has posted.

"I don't think he should represent our school at all for what he said about Muslims, what he said about liberals in general," she said.

Gunzelman claimed that Jansen said that political activists "hate America."

"There's so much hate that comes from his Twitter in general, and it just shows how much of a bigot he is," she said.

Gunzelman said she raised objections about him at an earlier meeting, and when Jansen was not removed from the board, he had a one-on-one conversation with her.

“He told me personally that he would watch what he said and that he wouldn’t say things like this anymore,” she said.

Jansen said he was "extremely open-minded" and encouraged more in-person discussions when opinions clash.

While Jansen said he did not place the tweet, he said he did understand why some people might be skeptical.

“I do say some stuff that’s confrontational, but that’s kind of me," he said.

Church:  In June 2016, Jansen called out the pastor of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown when there was a sign that said, "Wishing a blessed Ramadan to our Muslim neighbors" in front of the church

Jansen called the pastor, the Rev. Christopher Rodkey, and left a voicemail.

"Are you sick? Is there something wrong with you?" he asked after promising to share a photo of the sign on Facebook and Twitter "so everybody can see this, what you've done."

He posted a picture of the sign along with the church's phone number on his Twitter.

A few weeks later, Jansen dined at the Hadee Mosque in Harrisburg for Iftar, the meal Muslims partake in after sunset during Ramadan.

Jansen said at the time that the event was "informative" and "enlightening."

After rant on Islam, school board member dines with Muslims

Rodkey said Wednesday he was suspicious of a hack.

"My position is, this is more of the same," Rodkey said.

The pastor said he had looked into ways to remove school board members such as Jansen through legislation, but in Pennsylvania there isn't any way to do so.

He said he had reached out to the school district Wednesday and was told that Jansen was hacked.

Matt Jansen tweeted "Choose your battles but if this is your hill, here is the church's #" after seeing a sign wishing a blessed Ramadan to Muslim neighbors from a Dallastown church.

“Hackers usually don’t pirate your Twitter," Rodkey said.

Like Gunzelman, Rodkey took issue with other things Jansen has tweeted in the last few months. He called some of the things Jansen has retweeted "misogynistic."

“I know that he didn’t create it, but he shared it," he said.

The Rev. Christopher Rodkey, pastor of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown. Amanda J. Cain photo

Rodkey mentioned a tweet that Jansen had shared, which featured two pictures. One of the pictures was titled "Liberal anti-rape tips," which said "Urinate on yourself to ruin your rapist's mood/libido," and the other picture said "Conservative anti-rape tips," which said "Pull out a glock and make the rapist piss himself."

That picture was originally tweeted in July 2015, but Jansen retweeted it in early December, according to his Twitter account.

Rodkey said misogyny has become "normalized" and it can be seen on Jansen's account. The pastor said if he had posted something like what he has seen on Jansen's Twitter, he'd expect consequences.

"I would expect to have somebody call me out on it professionally," he said.

Jansen denied being a misogynist, saying he respects women.

The pastor said he believes the people of Spring Grove have to ask whether Jansen's "political opportunism" and "hate" are good for the school district.

Matthew Jansen responded to comments about his Twitter's post, saying the slur was once used in the 50's during the Eisenhower Administration. Screenshot courtesy Amy Gunzelman.

“For people who think this is acceptable, I’d have to question their judgment," he said.

Gunzelman said she would address the school board about Jansen at its Feb. 20 meeting.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.