KyQuan Phong, a 2010 Suffolk graduate, said he has been berated with a storm of media criticism since he was caught allegedly spying on the former home of William Keating, the Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District.
“My friends and I were out to find the truth and now we are being ridiculed and labeled as stalkers, undercover party operatives, etc.,” he said in a statement.
Phong, who was a member of the SGA and College Republicans at Suffolk, said he was trying to find out whether Keating still lived in his Sharon house, or in Quincy, where he moved to be eligible to run for the seat. He maintained that he was completely in his legal right to survey the house and pointed out he was not arrested or asked to leave by police.
He was working with an organization called Citizens for Truth Action Group (CitiTAG), which he and four others, including two Suffolk students, created “to help inform the public, specifically voters, of the truth behind claims made by candidates in Massachusetts political races. We research things ranging from policies or promises to alleged residency claims.” Phong declined to name the other members of the group.
An article from the Boston Globe erroneously tied CitiTAG to Suffolk by saying “[Phong] told Sharon police, according to the police report, that he was part of an organization called Citizens for Truth Action Group at Suffolk University…”
According to Suffolk officials, there is no such group that exists at university. They declined to comment further, since the group is not affiliated with Suffolk.
“[The Globe] reported that CitiTAG is a Suffolk University organization; I never said that, and even after they confirmed that there was no affiliation with the school by contacting Suffolk, they went ahead publishing that we were an organization based at the school,” said Phong in a statement.
He and another member of the group first observed the house on Oct. 4 from about 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. He parked on Bay Road, across the street from the house, and was actually in Stoughton because the border between the two towns is divided by the yellow lines.
He went back the next morning from about 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., when the police arrived to question him. Keating’s 22-year-old daughter, Kristen, who still lives in the house, noticed the rented gray Volvo parked across the street from her house and her uncle, Keating’s brother, called the police just before 7:30 a.m., according to the Globe.
“I feel unnerved; I feel scared,” Kristen told the Globe. “I live in my house all by myself, and it’s a very eerie feeling. How would you feel if you were a young female being followed and being watched? It’s scary.”
Phong said it was not his intention to make anyone feel afraid. “As soon as we heard that someone was put into a state of fear due to our observations, we stopped,” he said in a statement. He also pointed out that he was not following anyone in the family, and was simply parked in front of the house.
The stunt elicited negative responses from both the Democratic and Republican campaigns. Keating called it “a new low in Massachusetts politics,” and Jeff Perry, the Republican candidate, said “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do it, and I wouldn’t want anyone to do it on my behalf,” according to the Globe.
Phong stressed that the group is nonpartisan and not tied to any campaigns. He said that he has donated to both Republican and Democratic campaigns in the past.
“I am not entirely sure what sort of game the candidate and the media are playing with this occurrence,” said Phong in a statement. “But they are using all the speculation in their arsenal to harass… me and my organization’s integrity.”