Here’s what you need to know about the Dean Browning, ‘Dan Purdy’ Twitter drama

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A questionable tweet from a former GOP politician in Pennsylvania set off a Twitter investigation that led to Patti LaBelle’s nephew. 

The investigation began when Dean Browning, a former Lehigh County Commissioner who is white, married to a woman, and who unsuccessfully ran for Congress, said in a now-deleted tweeted that he was a “black gay guy” who felt that “everything is so much better” under President Trump. 

“I’m a black gay guy and I can personally say that Obama did nothing for me, my life only changed a little bit and it was for the worse,” Browning tweeted. Everything is so much better under Trump though. I feel respected — which I never do when Democrats are involved.”

Browning later clarified that he was quoting a message sent by one of his followers and apologized for the context not being clear. The message was sent by a Twitter follower with the handle @DanPurdy322.

Philip Bump, national correspondent for The Washington Post, quickly realized that Purdy, who went by @DanPurdy322, responds to a lot of Browning’s tweets. 

“You know who replies to Dean Browning a lot? ‘Dan Purdy,’ a gay black Trump supporter who joined Twitter in October,” Bump wrote in a tweet that has since been removed, according to Vox

Vox noted that the account @DanPurdy322, whose profile picture was a cartoon of a Black man wearing a beanie and the header a Trump 2020 logo, had a history of racist and sexist tweets. Speculation began that the account may have been a pro-Trump “bot account.” 

The account later posted a video showing a Black man claiming to be Dan Purdy and saying that he did send Browning the message because he didn’t like the way people were treating the president. 

“I don’t have a problem with Donald Trump … and I don’t understand why so many people pretend to,” Purdy said in the video. “Donald Trump has never done anything to hurt me either as a gay man or as a Black man, nor has he done anything to hurt anyone in the four years that he’s been in office.” 

The New York Times pointed out that “Dan Purdy” resembled Byl Holte, and that his social media accounts use the same avatar that’s on @DanPurdy322. 

However, in a shocking plot twist, Purdy was later identified as William “Byl” Holte, the nephew of singer Patti LaBelle. LaBelle adopted him and his sister following the death of her sister Jacqueline Holte, according to Vulture

The @DanPurdy322 account has since been suspended.

Tags 2020 election dean browning Donald Trump Patti Labelle

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