Paul Ryan's challenger bought Twitter followers in past: report

A Democratic challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan has been named among a group of politicians, celebrities, journalists and others busted for paying an obscure company named Devumi to boost their Twitter followers.

According to a New York Times report, ironworker Randy Bryce purchased Twitter followers in 2015, when he was a blogger and labor activist. That's before he launched his campaign to unseat Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District.

“Back in 2015, Randy spent about $10-$20 to buy 1,000 to 1,500 followers. He was trying out blogging at the time,” said Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Bryce’s campaign.

Republicans lambasted Bryce for buying Twitter followers in the past. Jeremy Adler, communications director for Ryan’s campaign, said the story “exposes just how artificial” the support for Bryce is.

But Hitt noted that buying Twitter followers is “not something we’ve done on this campaign, and he’s gained over 200,000 followers on Twitter since we launched in July,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The New York Times report also listed Chicago Sun-Times film critic Richard Roeper as having spent money to buy Twitter followers with fake accounts.

Following the revelation, the Sun-Times announced Friday that Roeper will delete his existing Twitter account and create a new one, and it ditched plans to have Roeper write a news column.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.