04.25.13

Paul Ryan Aide Charged With Stalking, Harassing Women for Nude Photos

Adam Savader, a former intern for Rep. Paul Ryan, is accused of trying to extort nude pictures from women. Michelle Cottle on the cringe-inducing allegations—and the next generation of political scandals.

So exactly how many Romney-Ryan ex-staffers do we think spent the past 24 hours nervously scanning their email for signs of invasion by Adam Savader?

For those not up on the latest political pseudo-scandal, Savader is the 21-year-old former intern for both Mitt Romney’s and Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaigns who was arrested Tuesday on charges of blackmailing and cyberstalking 15 young women.

As the FBI tells it, the former SUNY-Farmingdale student spent much of last fall and winter hacking into female acquaintances’ email accounts, downloading naked photos of them, and then threatening—via anonymous Google Voice accounts—to make the pics public unless the lovely lasses sent him even more titillating fare.

In his own photos, Savader looks like your average Beltway nebbish: pasty, bespectacled, bad hair. But don’t let the homuncularity fool you. The criminal complaint filed against Savader in federal court in Michigan suggests he was a seriously nasty piece of work when his chosen targets didn’t immediately bow to his demands.

Via a barrage of profane, bullying texts, he allegedly threatened to send the gals’ photos to their parents, sorority sisters, boyfriends, and co-workers. He is accused of telling one woman that he had procured nude photos of her mother, of grilling another on the details her sex life, and of informing multiple victims that he liked to sit around masturbating to their images.

One text received by Victim 4 read: “WAIT! Listen to me. If we don’t have a deal I will send the pictures to those people. Is that what u want? remember what’s at stake. do u want ur family and everyone in DC to see ur tits? Just agree to e-mail me a pic of u in a bra.” A more colorful rant to Victim 11 ordered: “Do it from ur phone RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I swear to god don’t be stupid. U don’t want every1 [sic] including your parents to see ur tits ass and pussy. Accept it now!!” One woman reported receiving up to 80 harassing texts a day.

One text read: “WAIT! Listen to me. If we don’t have a deal I will send the pictures to those people. Is that what u want?”

Though still a political nobody, Savader was a young man in a hurry, a political junkie with a gift for cozying up to VIPs. His Twitter pic features him standing proudly beside his former boss Paul Ryan. His Twitter ID reads: “@adamsavader. Patriot. Reagan Republican. Formerly @Paul Ryan’s sole intern on @MittRomney’s campaign and a @NewtGingrich campaign staffer.” His Facebook page is awash in photos of him gripping and grinning with an impressive array of conservative luminaries: Mitt, Newt and Callista, Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Marco Rubio, Dick Morris, Joe the Plumber.

Arguably the most mouthwatering morsel comes via Yahoo’s Chris Moody, to whom Savader once bragged that he was among the Gingrich staffers called upon to dress up as Ellis the Elephant, the main character in Callista’s children’s book, at campaign events.

Indeed, so passionate about politics was Savader that he allegedly threatened to email one of his victim’s naughty pics to the hardworking folks at the Republican National Committee.

Hilarious, right? Except that what this kid is accused of is no joke—and in many ways is more disturbing than what bubbles to the surface in your average political sex scandal. This is not about some narcissistic lawmaker shtupping a groupie or partying with hookers or texting photos of his junk. This case is about a guy who is said to have gotten his kicks threatening, stalking, and sexually harassing more than a dozen young women, many of whom pleaded with him to stop. We’re just lucky he was apparently stupid and sloppy enough to get busted at this early stage of the game. God only knows what kind of havoc he would have wreaked had he kept shimmying his way up the political pole.

Then again, if a bumbling loser like Savader can allegedly make trouble for so many women with so little apparent effort, it makes you wonder about the sort of big-league scandals looming on the not-so-distant horizon. Self-inflicted wounds à la fallen representatives Anthony Weiner and Chris Lee are just the tip of the iceberg. What happens when some overzealous oppo-researcher or overeager intern who really knows what he’s doing starts hacking into the private accounts of the opposition—or, worse yet, the opposition’s wives and children—in pursuit of political rather than sexual leverage? Racy pics are hardly the only compromising material to be found in personal emails, and it’s not as though 20-something women are the only ones grappling with how to handle privacy in a wired world.

Adam Savader may be a pathetic perv, but he also may be a grinning, elephant-suited harbinger of the next generation of political scandal. Which should make all of us a bit uneasy.