Orange County’s social media channels via Facebook have been buzzing with comments from a retired army dentist who goes by the name of John Scott Horner III.
Horner is married, lives in Mission Viejo, and is from Ripon, WI, a tiny town of less than 8,000 people. He’s a graduate of Marquette University and Marquette University School of Dentistry. And he is a retired US army dentist — a Veteran.
Horner is a regular on the “Orange County Progressives” and OCVMP Facebook pages railing for the cemetery to be placed at the Freeway site. Horner, loves OCVMP’s Bill Cook, Irvine council member Melissa Fox, and hates him some Larry Agran big time. But his status as a Veteran is probably why he is so engaged in the Veteran’s Cemetery issue.
He’s a handsome fella too; rugged and earthy in a flannel shirt and work boots kind of way. Not bad for a guy who turns 50 on June 12, or so his profile says. See these photos:
Horner has a ton of progressive friends in Orange County. Electeds, candidates, media types, union officials, and progressive leaders populate his Friends page on Facebook.
Friends like Mohammed Aly, Martin Wisckol, Ari Grayson, Dr. Jose Moreno, Naz Hamid, Harvey Liss, Octavia Tuohey, Katherine Daigle, Ajay Mohan, Louise Larson, Amy Stevens, Craig Baumbusch, Brian Fazio, Robert Leahy, Amar Singh Shergill, Tiffany Ackley, Staycie Sena, Rachel Payne, Scott Rhinehart, Mary Narravo, Omar Siddiqui, Jason Mills, Sharon Toji, Jesus Silva, Boyd Roberts, Barbara Nelson, Mary Carter, Ron Varasteh, Jennifer Delson, Ed Garza, Mirvette Judah, Sherri Loveland, Denise Penn, Ray Cordova, Gary Bennett, Karen Hinks, Karina Onofre, Felicity Figueroa, Arnel Dino, Jeff LeTourneau, Ken Stahl, Victor Valladares, Cynthia Aguirre, Doug Pettibone, Doug Applegate, Kimberly Ellis, Ryan Ruelas, Josh Newman and more. Heck, we have 65 friends in common.
Quite the list. And he’s so outspoken.
I’ve had some interactions with Mr. Horner back in March over the cemetery; he seemed very focused on support for Irvine council member Melissa Fox, so I suggested he be careful because she’s a married woman. He admonished me for “loving Mike Levin” and suggested a joke I made was “Beavis and Butthead” humor.
Certainly a spirited debate with someone knowledgeable about OC politics and the issues surrounding the Veteran’s Cemetery.
John Scott Horner III is not real.
He or She is an Orange County Political Troll using the same tactics Russian bots and trolls used in the 2016 election.
Let’s start with “his” hometown. Ripon High School in Wisconsin reports no one by the name John Scott Horner III is a graduate of their high school in the mid-1980s.
Marquette University and Marquette Dental School have no record of attendance or a degree granted to a John Scott Horner III. Marquette did have a John E. Horner from Virginia attend an event logged by their database but this event happened at Purdue University.
The public affairs unit of the U.S. Army has no record of a retired John Scott Horner III; they referred me to a site called Archives.com and there is no John Scott Horner III that served in the US Army dating back to the 1800s.
The Dental Board of California has no listing for a John Scott Horner III with credentials to practice dentistry in this state. None. Even under “inactive” there is no John Scott Horner III.
Lastly, there’s no listing for a John Scott Horner III in Mission Viejo and no one registered to vote in Orange County under this name. So June 12 can’t be a birthday for someone who doesn’t exist.
That handsome, rugged fella whose portraits and snapshots adorn John Scott Horner III’s Facebook page is real though. His name is Michael Vickerman and he is a program and policy director for RENEW Wisconsin, a non-profit company that promotes renewable energy in Wisconsin.
So, he’s a clean and green energy guy
Unfortunately, Mr. Vickerman is a crime victim. His likeness was used to create a fake Facebook profile page used by someone to speak out on political issues on behalf of several possible candidates. And that means whoever John Scott Horner III is, they have committed the crime of misdemeanor Identity Theft.
And because he or she pretended to be a retired military dentist, this amounts to what OCMVP’s Bill Cook would call “stolen valor.”
There is a movement underway for making harsher penalties for those who claim to be military veterans when getting involved in identity theft, but the legislation moves slowly and faces court challenges and free speech issues. See this story for more. http://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20140408/News/140409711
I contacted Vickerman to make him aware his photograph was being used by an imposter. He called back Wednesday afternoon and was a little apprehensive about why a political blog from Southern California was calling him in Wisconsin. I asked him to go to John Scott Horner III’s Facebook profile and Vickerman was unable to see it. This is a common practice of social media identity thieves; to block their profile page from their target so they can’t see it.
So I emailed him the photos posted here to Mr. Vickerman. It took a few minutes, but he opened every photograph.
“This is definitively me,” said Vickerman. “I’m flabbergasted to see all these photos. The one of me in the Badlands. The one of me with my brother on a boat. It’s clearly identity theft.”
Then he asked me where our blog is from again. When I told him Orange County, he said he knew someone from Orange County and she’s on a city council.
“Who?” I asked.
“Melissa Fox,” he replied. “I went to school with her husband Michael. I came to a conference in Orange County and stayed at their house.”
Vickerman thought this conference was in 2010, but wasn’t sure.
Vickerman revealed he’s known Michael Fox since the 1970s when they were students at UW-Madison; Vickerman was an undergraduate and Fox at UW’s Law School. It’s quite the coincidence and completely unexpected.
This development surprised me. I’m not pointing any fingers here without hard evidence, but did tell Vickerman some believe one of the Fox’s was behind the profile and one or both of them might likely contact him after this story posts.
(this section was written prior to the Vickerman interview, but I’m leaving it here).
So, who is John Scott Horner III? Well, it could be a variant of the Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme “Little Jack Horner.”
Since so much about Mr. Horner is Wisconsin-based, it’s a nod to Wisconsin politician John Horner, also referred to as “Little Jack Horner.”
John Scott Horner was a U.S. politician, Secretary and acting Governor of Michigan Territory, 1835–1836 and Secretary of Wisconsin Territory, 1836–1837.
Horner was one of the original settlers of what is today Ripon, WI and he helped establish Ripon College; Horner died in Ripon and is buried there. During his life, Horner was a probate judge in Marquette County, WI, but he attended Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson College) and not Marquette. He was a farmer by trade and not a dentist and Horner never served in the military.
My friends in IT security suggest whoever John Scott Horner III is, has some traits that expose his/her real identity. He/she is likely from Wisconsin or the upper Midwest. This person is a student of history and they know their way around Facebook pretty well. Based on cultural references in Facebook posts, they are also likely between the age of 45 and 65, have a political agenda to promote certain candidates.
If you know someone who likes to drop references to the old TV show “Beavis and Butthead,” that’s a clue.
And it’s highly likely that John Scott Horner III is a campaign worker, a consultant, a volunteer or a family member of a political candidate or an elected official. “John’s” social media experiment is to protect that candidate/official’s reputation/policies/votes or advance that candidate’s reputation/policy/votes.
My friends in IT security also suggest the creator of this project is somewhat arrogant and believes they are so smart that they won’t be caught.
We’ll see about that. 😉
Digital fingerprints always lead somewhere and my white-hat hacker pals are already digging (or should I say, have dug? he-he). White hat hacking is ethical hacking for those who needed detail.
Know anyone who fits the bill? I have some ideas, but I need solid proof first. And I am not pointing any fingers.
Who needs Russian trolls when we have our own in Orange County; and someone who is a Democrat or a Progressive to boot.
Much of the debate from the pro-freeway location of the Veteran’s cemetery focuses on the honesty of those who support the ARDA site. The social media efforts of John Scott Horner III are as dishonest as they come. And Veterans ought to denounce the stolen valor of this person claiming to be an retired Army Veteran when all evidence proves John Scott Horner III is a liar and a work of fiction.
If John Scott Horner III is on your friends list, unfriend him. Before he/she deletes the profile altogether. I’m wondering how quickly that profile disappears once this story goes live.