One day after being accused of posting racist, antigay, and anti-poor-people messages on Facebook, the Democratic Party-backed candidate for Philadelphia's Seventh City Council District seat said his page was hacked.
"Anything that you find from my Facebook that has to do with any type of derogatory comments, has never been from me," Emanuel "Manny" Morales said Tuesday.
Morales said the messages, which date from 2010 to 2014, were not posted by him. He had no explanation for how they came to be there other than to say that people get hacked.
He took down the page Monday, but before doing so he addressed the allegations in a post.
"I have been told that people are spreading outrageous and desperate lies. . . . Those that really know me know that I have family members and friends that I love and care for that are of a different skin color than me. I have family members and friends that I care for that have loved ones of the same sex," he wrote.
The party chairman, U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, said he was prepared to bring in an expert to help sort everything out.
"We have a process to go through to find out everything that happened; we're not through the process yet," Brady said. "From what I understand, he has denied everything. I'm going to have a forensic expert, Facebook expert, look at it. I'm not rushing to judge. We'll see what happens."
Mayor Nutter, in a posting on his Facebook page, expressed a more forceful message.
"If these materials were, in fact, not posted by Mr. Morales or connected to him in any way, he needs to refute them and explain how they became connected to his candidacy to the citizens of this city," Nutter wrote.
"As a citizen, I am offended by his comments. As an African American, I am deeply insulted. And as Mayor and an active Ward Leader in the Democratic City Committee, I am repulsed by the kind of views that Mr. Morales apparently expresses on his personal social media accounts," Nutter said. "Clearly, these are the rantings of someone who never anticipated running for public office and never anticipated that he would have to represent a diverse constituency in the Seventh District. . . .
"Since it appears that the posts were made by Mr. Morales on his personal social media account, I am hopeful that he will do the decent thing and withdraw as a candidate in this race . . ..," Nutter wrote. "His views are in complete conflict with Democratic Party values. They represent the thoughts of a racist and a bigot."
Word of Morales' alleged Facebook postings emerged Monday when Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez screen-grabbed 60-plus objectionable posts and published them on a website she controls, www.meetmannymorales.com.
Sánchez, 46, on Tuesday said it "defies logic" for Morales to claim he never made the postings. She said he needed to "own up to the bigoted and hateful language" and again called on the Democratic Party to rescind its endorsement.
"Baseless character attacks against me won't change the truth about what he said and the radical views Manny Morales has supported," Sánchez said. "I welcome further scrutiny because it will only serve to further confirm his outrageous statements."
The posts include derogatory statements about blacks, gays, and poor people, and dozens of ultraconservative political viewpoints that do not align with the values of the party, Sánchez said.
Morales, a committeeman and former state labor investigator who is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., was endorsed by the Democratic ward leaders in the Seventh Council District last month.
Although having the backing of ward leaders is a boon, Sánchez has twice won the office without their support.
Top party leaders remained quiet on whether they would challenge the ward leaders' endorsement.
Morales said he took down the Facebook page because he realized it had been hacked. Now, he said, he's considering his legal options.
"I'm not leaving the race and we will win on May 19," Morales said. "I've actually been getting a lot of support - she's [Sánchez] being a good campaign manager."
Mayoral candidate State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, a political ally of Sánchez, called on all the mayoral candidates to speak out against Morales' candidacy.
"It is shameful that Mr. Morales appears to have presented such a deceptive picture of his views and values," Williams said in a statement. "I hope that the party will take this new information under advisement and reconsider their endorsement."
Another mayoral candidate, former Judge Nelson A. Diaz, who endorsed Morales, said: "The alleged comments and countercharges from each candidate are clearly inappropriate and extremely troubling, if corroborated."