Call it a cautionary tale for the modern age.
If there is any lesson learned from the continuing saga of vampire role-playing congressional candidate Jake Rush, it’s this — don’t do things online that you would not want to crop up in the case of, say, a decision to run for Congress from Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.
A SaintPetersBlog report Tuesday outlined the strange double-life of the Gainesville attorney and former Alachua County sheriff’s deputy, exposing him as a long-time member of the Mind’s Eye Society (MES), otherwise known as “Camarilla,” a community of gothic-punk role-players who come together to take on personas of vampires and other supernatural beings.
The announced Republican candidate challenger to U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho is also well-known to his gamer community — Kindred of Gainesville — as “Chazz Darling,” “Staas van der Winst” and a number of other characters.
Part of his “role-playing” activities, which included occult-based costumes and simulated bondage, had Rush (Chazz) frequenting The Camarilla Wiki Project and message boards on Yahoo! like “The Fallen,” where he would interact with other players, always in character.
Both the tone and style of many of these exchanges do not call to mind an innocent pastime. The violent nature of subject matter (vampires, werewolves, the occult and the like), MES is clearly an adult “game,” with decidedly adult themes, including sex, rape, bondage and drug use.
In the lead up to Rush’s announcement of a run for Congress, some of the most controversial entries were erased by a New York-based MES player on or around March 7, 2014 — photos and images – including one with the title “Put on My Rape Face.”
One example of such a discussion with Chazz Darling is a Yahoo! message board post dated Feb. 12, 2010:
At first I thought you were just stupid and I wanted to stick my dick in your mouth to shut you up while I snorted a line off my new machete that was blessed by Rui (sic) but then I remembered that you were typing so my dick would really have to be in your hands to keep you from typing but since you are walking in Omaha that’s not really realistic right now. I’m sorry, I tried.
Rae tells me that you are a Maiden, and it’s your job to be kind of stupid and that I’m not supposed to have intercourse with Maidens.
You shouldn’t believe everything that people tell you or you’re going to end up naked and sore, tied to the floor of a van marked “Free Candy.”
That posting mysteriously disappeared as of Tuesday afternoon.
In an interview with the Gainesville Sun, Rush told reporter Erin Jester he “couldn’t confirm if those messages, dating to 2009 … but noted that sometimes during the course of the role playing he’s played evil characters.”
Here is where the cautionary tale comes in.
Each registered member of a MES “membership class” (after paying the $20 yearly fee) gets a “Cam Number,” which identifies the player within his (or her) larger body of players. This number follows the user through gameplay, as well as postings on the wiki and related websites.
Rush’s is US200221162.
In the now-deleted “The Fallen” Yahoo! message board, Chazz Delight, author of the above exchange, is identified clearly as US200221162, with an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neither Rush, nor campaign consultant Alex Patton, admitted to removing the post. But the “conservative straight shooter,” who had his hand on a Bible in his first campaign ad, does admit that he could have said such things.
“I certainly, as I said, played heroes and villains,” the former law enforcement official said. “Anything I played in character, is a character, you know. It’s not me.”
“It’s all improv,” Rush adds.
Fortunately, the Internet, where it is difficult for a bourgeoning GOP congressman to be completely anonymous, has a better memory than that of Jake Rush, or Chazz Delight, for that matter.