Updated at 9:36 a.m. April 6, 2018, with a statement from the Mackey family.
An infamous white nationalist troll who went by the online moniker "Ricky Vaughn" is a 28-year-old Waterbury native whose father is a prominent Montpelier lobbyist, the Huffington Post reported Thursday.
The man known as Ricky Vaughn, whose online profile grew during the 2016 general election, is actually Douglass Mackey. He graduated from Harwood Union High School and Middlebury College, and now lives in Manhattan, the Huffington Post reported.
His father, Scott Mackey, is a partner at Leonine Public Affairs and served on the Harwood Union School Board.
“We were devastated to learn this week of Doug's beliefs and on-line activities as reported in the Huffington Post," Scott Mackey said in a statement released Friday. "They are antithetical to the values we hold and with which he was raised. We are still trying to understand how he could have done something like this and hope he will find some way to make amends for the harm he has caused.”
"Ricky Vaughn," a Trump supporter, trafficked in racist, sexist and anti-Semitic memes and conspiracy theories and became an alt-right icon.
The MIT Media Lab ranked him among the top 150 Twitter influencers of the 2016 election, ahead of Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher and NBC News, among other accounts. (The name "Ricky Vaughn" is taken from a character played by Charlie Sheen in the baseball movie Major League.)
The Huffington Post wrote:
Ricky Vaughn also played an important role in amplifying disinformation injected into American politics by the Russian government. HuffPost and a team of data scientists known as Susan Bourbaki Anthony that tracks online propaganda analyzed who was retweeting the now infamous Kremlin-controlled Twitter account @TEN_GOP, which consistently praised Trump, attacked Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and churned out a vile medley of racism, Islamophobia and “fake news.”
“You’re a crass, craven, disgusting worm," Ricky Vaughn recently declared on Twitter, about one of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre who advocated for gun control. "Smiling and laughing and taking selfies in the wake of a massacre. Why? Because you’ve punched your ticket now. You’re famous, just like you always wanted to be. A little theatre whore. Dance for the cameras, monkey."