Sheriff Caught Falsifying Headlines In Sham Campaign

Philadelphia Sheriff Rochelle Bilal is embroiled in a significant controversy following reports that she altered headlines on her campaign website to inaccurately portray a favorable image of her initial tenure in office. This information surfaced on Monday, February 5th.

The investigation conducted by The Inquirer revealed that Bilal distributed fabricated headlines, falsely attributing them to credible sources such as WHYY, CBS3, The Inquirer, and NBC10. Despite their falsity, these headlines presented a stark contrast to the corruption scandals that marred her initial term in office.

Accusations have surfaced against Bilal, alleging the misuse of taxpayer funds to boost her salary, while her office has faced scrutiny regarding missing firearms and suspicious financial dealings. Despite these controversies, visitors to Bilal’s campaign website encountered exaggerated and fictitious headlines highlighting her purportedly impressive accomplishments.

Some of the exaggerated accomplishments included assertions of distributing bulletproof vests, dismantling large-scale drug operations, leading efforts in mental health initiatives, and apprehending suspects.

Nevertheless, The Inquirer’s inquiry revealed that the outlets referenced by Bilal had no documented records supporting her claims. NBC10 spokesperson Diana Torralvo clarified that although they covered a story resembling one on Bilal’s website, it occurred in 2016, prior to Bilal returning to her position at the Sheriff’s office.

Upon facing inquiries about the deceptive headlines, Bilal purportedly removed them from her website. Her campaign manager, Teresa Lundy, professed ignorance, asserting she was unaware of the fabricated headlines.

On February 2, her campaign released a disclaimer acknowledging the inaccuracies, stating their commitment to providing accurate information while refraining from guaranteeing its accuracy. Following this, the campaign confessed to the potential use of an AI chatbot to produce the headlines. They asserted that the campaign supplied talking points to an external consultant, who then relayed them to the AI service. According to their account, this service generated fabricated news articles to align with the provided talking points.

Adding to the complexities of the controversies, one of Bilal’s deputies became entangled in an FBI inquiry concerning gun trafficking, while her deputy-in-command received penalties from the Philadelphia Board of Ethics for holding outside employment as a defense attorney.

The official website of the Office of the Sheriff for the City and County of Philadelphia highlights Rochelle Bilal as the inaugural Black woman to be elected as Sheriff in Philadelphia. Taking office in 2020 and subsequently securing re-election in 2023, her tenure, despite this historic achievement, has been tarnished by scandals.




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