A statement from CT State Rep. Maria Horn (D-64th) — Running for office is not for the faint of heart. It’s an important attribute in a public servant to learn not to take things personally, even when political criticism is delivered in harsh terms.But there is a line between political challenge and personal attack, between truth and fabrication.That line has been crossed on the Facebook page founded by my opponent and managed by his supporters.Nationwide, the conversation on social media has degraded to an alarming degree, and salacious assertions without foundation get made every day. They never go away, in spite of fact-checking efforts: the fact-checking is never as interesting as a malicious lie. In 2018, in my first campaign for office, I’m very proud that we did not go that route, and that the race remained largely free of character assassination.Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening this year. Under the shield of “that’s politics,” assertions have been made (and left up online for days for public view) on the Northwest Corner Chatter Facebook page alleging all kinds of outrageous and personal falsehoods about me: about an affair, about theft, about financial fraud. My children were even dragged into this mud, accused of confirming these crimes.Those who try to push back against these baseless and personal accusations are dismissed as “just Maria supporters” that should be ignored. Some have been kicked off the page entirely for saying something positive about me or challenging other attempts to smear my name. Posts like “Thank you, Maria Horn,” from a constituent I had helped during the post-Isaias power outage, are refused, or taken down because they “stir the pot” or are “insulting to Brian.” Another challenge is that, although I am a member of the page, I am not able to see any comments made by my opponent, as he has blocked me and several other supporters from seeing those. I am only made aware of them when followers send me screenshots.If this were a personal Facebook page, or a campaign page, none of this would be surprising, or even interesting. But for a page that holds itself out as a public forum and community gathering spot, as this does, these tactics are deceitful. Those who come to the page may not know they are being presented a view of the community through a deliberately distorted political lens. I have been told variously by one of the page moderators that she removes “posts that are insulting” to me, and that “we only remove posts if they are offensive or are creating so many posts that violate the rules, that it is better to take the [whole] post down,” and that “We do believe in Freedom of Speech as long as it is respectful.”I do not understand how the current lies about me, couched as just “rumors,” meets the definition of respectful discourse. The woman who posted this slander dismisses a challenge by writing, “Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. That I cannot confirm.”This is not how I practice politics. Facts matter to me. Baseless rumors and personal attacks have no place on my social media, and never have. All of my comments and posts are open to the public, and I do not ban anyone from any page or account I control. I can’t control other people, but I will continue to adhere to my own principles because my integrity and my credibility are at the core of who I am. I am not going to keep responding to these lies. I do expect Northwest Corner Chatter to live up to its own guidelines.