McCain volunteer fakes mutilation by Obama supporter

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ashley Todd, a campaign volunteer for John McCain, who on Wednesday reported that she was attacked by an Obama supporter while using an ATM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, admitted on Friday that she had made up the story.

Todd had described her attacker as a tall, "dark-skinned African-American," who pressed a knife against her neck while she was using an ATM. She claimed that after she gave him $60, he noticed a McCain sticker on her car and proceeded to beat her before pinning her down and scratching a backwards "B" for "Barack" into her cheek with the knife. He then fled the scene, she said, though later she could not recall to which direction he fled.

He wanted to teach her a lesson, she said, and make her a Barack Obama supporter.

"It’s not like her cheek was carved out," a police spokeswoman said of the mutilation, referring to it as a "scratch" or "scrape." Todd did not seek medical attention, instead leaving for a friend's apartment and calling police almost an hour after the time she said she had been attacked.

The Pittsburgh Police Department administered a polygraph test on Todd after spotting several inconsistencies in her story and finding that bank and video records showed she had not used the ATM machine.

Police Commander Larry Ross said Todd's story began to change with subsequent interviews. "She added other things to it that we didn’t have at first, that she didn’t tell the initial officer," he said. Todd had added that the alleged attacker had "fondled" her in a follow-up interview, and later changed her story to say that she had been unconscious during the attack.

Police say that Todd has suffered "mental problems" in the past. They do not believe anyone made her pull this hoax.

The story received widespread attention across the internet and mass media outlets, and was featured in a massive headline on conservative news aggregation website Drudge Report.

The McCain campaign said McCain and Palin had both spoken to her over the phone, offering their condolences. Obama later condemned the attack and called for the attacker to be brought to justice.