Ever heard of Broward CleanSweep? It's a Facebook page devoted to cleaning up the Broward County School Board by voting out the incumbent School Board members on August 24.
Let me start by saying I honestly have no idea who is behind CleanSweep, and I've asked (and yes, I am a friend after a request came my way last week). But somebody who is apparently connected to -- and loyal to -- the current board believed they knew who CleanSweep was and yesterday tried to scare, or extort, them right off the internet.
The anti-whistleblower who wanted to kill the muckraking CleanSweep went by the ironic name of "Broward Conscience," an account no longer available on Facebook. Broward Conscience sent a Facebook message to CleanSweep demanding that it "delete your account immediately."
CleanSweep played along with the strong-arming attempt. Basically, "Broward Conscience" believed that CleanSweep was a Broward County School Board employee named Michael Marchetti, a School Board building inspector who has publicly complained about corruption at the School Board. His wife, Valarie, is a database research assistant at the School Board as well.
So what did "Broward Conscience" do? It tried to use this information into blackmailing CleanSweep to disappear. Here's the rather chilling exchange, which occurred yesterday afternoon (August 10) and was posted by CleanSweep:
Broward Conscience, 2:28pm: Delete your account immediately.
Broward CleanSweep, 2:29pm: That's it? and what do I get in return?
Broward Conscience, 2:30pm: Delete your account immediately.
Broward CleanSweep, 2:37pm: i need assurances. i dont even know who you are.
Broward Conscience, 2:43pm: It does not matter who I am. EVERYONE who controls yours and Valerie's employment status will know who YOU are and we have documented every post and time of post for the last month.
SIU [the Broward School Board investigations unit] can and will document your time at work and reconcile with these posts.
You have 10 minutes to delete your account.
Click inside to read the rest of the exchange, along with Marchetti's reaction.
Broward CleanSweep, 2:44pm: You could be any punk making a guess.
Broward Conscience, 2:52pm: Maybe I am and maybe I'm not. Valerie is a confidential secretary to Tom Coates (may he rest in peace) sworn to confidentiality by her employment contract. If it is proven that she fed you confidential information, which we have evidence that she has, you could both be subject to criminal prosecution.
Want to take a chance that I'm just some punk?
Or should I call (754) 321-4800 and ask Dave Hammenn [sic -- this is apparently a reference to David Hermann, a School Board project manager who once worked under Marchetti]. what you are doing right now?
No more chit chat. DELETE the account and STAY OFF Facebook. We'll KNOW if you create another account. Find some other way to practice your activism other than unfairly berating everybody.
Broward CleanSweep, 2:54pm: This isn't chit chat. I still need assurances. You will drop entire matter if I delete account? How do you know Coates?
Broward Conscience, 2:58pm: Sorry Mr. Marchetti. I would use my computer to update yours and Valerie's resumes. Then do a search on bondsmen. I have a feeling you are both going to need them.
Broward CleanSweep, 3:00pm: Let's be reasonable. If don't know who I'm dealing with I won't go away. Why don't you just tell me who you want me to ignore, and we will never need to interact again.
Broward Conscience, 3:02pm: Sorry. You had your chance. Goodbye Mr. Marchetti. Our regrets to Valerie.
That's the end of the exchange. Needless to say, CleanSweep didn't disappear. It was a "trap" all along; CleanSweep was just playing along with Conscience to get as much information as possible.
CleanSweep says he or she isn't Marchetti and now wants to expose Broward Conscience, who is believed to be a top volunteer official in the School Board system. More on that later. Here's what CleanSweep wrote about the exchange with Broward Conscience (illustrating it with the photo at right):
BROWARD CONSCIENCE, in another attempt to silence dissent, has FALSELY ACCUSED a SBBC employee and his spouse, of being BROWARD CLEANSWEEP. She has threatened to inform his supervisor, Thomas Lindner and the Sheriff's Investigators at SBBC. SHE is 100% wrong. That man had courage to speak at recent meeting. I don't know him at all. BROWARD CONSCIENCE IS A COWARD!
I called Marchetti this afternoon to ask him point-blank if he was CleanSweep. He didn't even know what it was.
"I've never been on Facebook in my life," said Marchetti, laughing. "It's not me."
When I told him that Broward Conscience said he and his wife would be arrested for sharing secret information, he laughed again.
"What? For giving me public information?" he said. "She's very careful and very confidential because she knows it could affect her job. But what do we do that is not subject to public information laws? Nothing that we do at the School Board is secret, supposedly. Everything is subject to public record requests. Everything is public information."