Mystery blogger takes off mask

North Idaho Republican Linda Cook says she is 'almostinnocentbystander'

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COEUR d'ALENE - North Idaho Republican political campaign worker Linda Cook says she is "almostinnocentbystander," the anonymous online commenter on the Spokesman-Review website who allegedly defamed Kootenai County Republican leader Tina Jacobson.

Cook worked in North Idaho on the Vaughn Ward campaign for Congress two years ago, a bid that fell short against current U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador. Ward said Cook was a campaign worker for him for nine months, but he declined further comment.

Cook, 55, of Rathdrum, also has worked on campaigns for former Idaho state Sen. Mike Jorgenson, current Idaho state Rep. Kathleen Sims, and was a congressional aide for late U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho. All are Republicans.

A judge in 1st District Court earlier this month ruled the Spokesman-Review must give Jacobson and her attorney information that could lead to the identity of almostinnocentbystander.

The newspaper won't appeal Judge John Luster's recent order.

Spokesman-Review editor Gary Graham said in an email Monday, "Our attorneys advised us that it was highly unlikely that an appeal would have been successful in Idaho."

An attorney for the Spokesman-Review, Joel Hazel, declined Monday to confirm that Cook is almostinnocentbystander.

The commenter posed a question in February under a Huckleberries Online blog post suggesting $10,000 reportedly missing from the county's Republican central committee might be "stuffed inside Tina's blouse??? Let's not try to find out."

On Monday Cook told The Press, "I'm a person of conviction and I'm not afraid to speak out. On the other hand, I have a life so I don't like the spotlight."

Cook came forward Monday to the Coeur d'Alene Press, saying, "It's a little bit of a firestorm right now." Cook said she currently is going to school.

"(Cook) was a very, very good worker," said Sims. "She's knowledgeable about campaigns."

Sims said Cook worked on her 2010 campaign as a volunteer. She would definitely have her back, Sims said.

Jacobson didn't return a call seeking comment.

Matt Andersen, Jacobson's attorney, said, "I understand there is a person who is taking credit for being the (alleged) defamer. I have not received the court-ordered information yet so it's premature to comment."

Hazel said the newspaper today would turn over the required documents, and he expected Andersen and Jacobson to proceed with their lawsuit for defamation.

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