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Dan Bost doesn’t want to see this story published, and neither presumably does Mike Kuhn. So the question is – Who does?
Dan Bost, current staffer for state Senator Chris Gebhard (R-48) and former candidate for Lebanon County Record of Deeds, says he had one volunteer on his 2019 bid for a full-term in the row office – Alex Kuhn, son of Lebanon County Commissioner Mike Kuhn, who last month launched a campaign for his first full-term as one of the county’s three top elected leaders.
Among other duties, Alex Kuhn created and managed a Facebook page for Bost’s campaign.
According to Facebook data, the page was created on Jan. 4, 2019, with the name “Dan Bost for Lebanon County Recorder of Deeds.” On Jan. 13, 2023, the name of that page was changed to “Mike Kuhn for Lebanon County Commissioner.”
Bost said the name change was a complete surprise to him – as well as the hundreds of other individuals who had liked or followed the page, all of whom received a notification at the time through the Facebook platform.
Bost said he reached out to Alex Kuhn immediately, but received no response. While Bost acknowledges that the ownership status of the page is unclear, as Alex Kuhn did create it, Facebook’s terms of service prohibit changing the name of a page in a manner that significantly alters its existing purpose. More to the point, the seemingly surreptitious swap and unheeded outreach left Bost receiving questions about why he made the change, and without recourse to do anything about it.
So Bost reached out to a longtime acquaintance, attorney Shohin Vance of Philadelphia lawfirm Kleinbard, son of former state Senator Patricia Vance and himself a former associate at Long-Nyquist.
The letter, dated Feb. 1, ended up in LebTown’s inbox on Feb. 2. Sent from the apparently pseudonymous address “email@example.com,” the tipster said that they found it ironic and hypocritical that a campaign championing the slogan “Decent, Honest Politics” would engage in “such hideously indecent and dishonest politics.”
Kuhn kicked off his campaign last month in an event held at a funeral home – perhaps a macabre setting to some, but one that Kuhn spun into his narrative, saying that he wanted to bury negative politics in Lebanon County.
The anonymous tipster also copied a partially defunct email address used by the Lebanon County Republican Committee – back to that in a minute.
The letter, embedded below, states that Bost did not grant permission for the Facebook page to be reutilized for the Kuhn campaign.
“Indeed, in the past week, my client has been contacted by dozens of friends, colleagues and family members, confused and bewildered by your underhanded tactics,” reads the letter. “Given that my client has attempted communications with you and your family in an effort to resolve this matter amicably, you are, of course, aware that Mr. Bost continues to find your deceitful tactics both sad and disturbing.”
Reached by phone Thursday, Bost confirmed the authenticity of the letter, but said that in his opinion it was a private matter, and that he would prefer a story not be published.
This being LebTown, we have a duty to followup for our readers. But Bost said some other things that stood out to this editor.
Bost said he had only sent the letter to two parties – his boss, state Senator Chris Gebhard, and Alex Kuhn. Bost said that he did not send it to the Lebanon County Republican Committee.
Gebhard confirmed via email that he did not create the account firstname.lastname@example.org in order to leak the letter to LebTown.
So, who sent the letter to LebTown?
Bost suggested that it wasn’t much of a mystery to him. He said that with this story, only one person wins. And, spoiler alert, that person hasn’t been named yet in this article.
Bost said that in his opinion the most likely leaker was former Lebanon County Republican Committee chair Casey Long, son of lobbyist Michael Long, who together with Todd Nyquist operates the lobbying firm Long, Nyquist, & Associates, described by Spotlight PA as one of the most powerful GOP-connected lobbying firms in the state.
The other email address sent the letter Thursday was email@example.com, an email address previously used by Casey Long during his tenure as GOP chair. Although that account is today still controlled by the committee, LebTown has not received an email from it since July 2020, when Ed Lynch was elected by the party committee as its new chairman.
During the exceptionally contentious 2019 GOP primary for the county commissioners race, which saw incumbents Bob Phillips and the late Bill Ames joined by first-time candidate Matt Shirk in the bid for the two Republican slots on the ballot, actions taken by Long led to an apparently unprecedented request from local legislators for him to step down as chairman. The letter was signed by former state Sen. Mike Folmer, state Rep. Russ Diamond, and former state Rep. Frank Ryan.
“Your actions during this campaign have fallen far short of the mark and are an absolute embarrassment,” read the letter. “We can no longer remain quiet. It’s time for you to step down as Chairman of the LCRC.”
Long has his own longtime relationship with Vance, said Bost. Indeed, as LebTown itself has reported, Vance and Long collaborated together in a 2019 election dispute on behalf of Andrew Zidik for a seat on the Lebanon City Council. Vance was also Matt Shirk’s attorney in a 2019 defamation lawsuit against Leadership Lebanon Valley PAC organizers Katy and Samuel Abram.
Bost said that he considered himself as Vance’s client, and Vance describes Bost as his client in the letter. Vance did not respond to multiple texts and calls from LebTown, including a direct question of whether he shared the letter with Long unbeknownst to Bost.
Additionally, Casey Long did not respond to multiple texts and calls from LebTown.
The tipster – whoever it was – also did not respond to followup questions sent by LebTown.
In a statement sent to LebTown by Mike Kuhn on Friday, Kuhn said that Alex created the page to support Dan Bost’s campaign, and that Alex was the sole owner and operator of the page. Kuhn noted that Facebook approved the name change and provided a screenshot confirming such.
“The letter we received from the former Long-Nyquist lobbyist was clever, but misleading and false,” said Kuhn. “There was never any intent to mislead any Facebook followers.”
“I’m glad to be able to clear up the matter.”
Kuhn also said that Facebook approved an updated purpose of the page, although LebTown was not able to independently verify that aspect of the change based on the provided screenshot. Kuhn noted that all followers of the page were given the option to unfollow at the time of the name change, and since that date, over 400 new followers have been added. Both points are however likely moot at this time, as Kuhn said that his campaign will abandon the page anyway.
Kuhn added: “With respect to these concerns, not only will our team remain committed to adhering to Facebook’s policy guidelines, but we have also taken action to avoid any further confusion and provide fodder for campaign consultants. Thus, our campaign set up a new page which can be found at facebook.com/KuhnForLebanonCounty.” (As of publication time, the original page was also still up. A post was made on Saturday saying that the page would soon be deactivated and that users should like and follow the new page.)
Kuhn said in the statement that he made a pledge to conduct his campaign with integrity, and that will remain the mission.
“I’m in this campaign for County Commissioner because it’s an honor to serve our community,” said Kuhn. “Unfortunately, that requires me to deal with politics for now. But I don’t live in that world.”
“Service remains my focus. Win, lose or draw, I will continue to serve our community with honor, respect, and dignity.”
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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated that Mike Kuhn didn’t hold any elected office at the time that Alex Kuhn volunteered for Dan Bost’s campaign. This was incorrect. Kuhn did not hold a countywide office, but he was on the Lebanon School Board. We sincerely regret the error. Additionally, this article was updated to be ambiguous as to the specific number of followers the page had at the time of the name change. A previous version of the article had stated the page had 800-some followers at the time of the name change, but that is its current number of followers.