Profile of a Lobbyist

Still working hard: Still in the spotlight

“He was oftentimes wrong, like he was about the VCR … but nobody can spin words together like him,” said Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a group that advocates easier access to digital information. “He’s one of the most eloquent people I’ve ever come across.”

Valenti’s silver-tongued phrases, often mined from the far reaches of the thesaurus and delivered with a hint of his Texas twang, have made him one of the most quotable people in town. But in Washington, words really matter only when the right people hear them. Valenti has spent decades nurturing relationships with Democrats and Republicans that continue to open doors for him.

“When Jack calls, people are available to see us,” said Edward W. Scott, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who founded Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

A Law & Order Episode In the Making

With a very important question: A Pretend Web Romance, Then a Real-Life Murder

He told her he was a young marine, recently back from Iraq.

She said she was an attractive 18-year-old woman eager to meet men, even if they were far from her West Virginia home.

As with many relationships born on the Internet, neither was telling the truth.

In reality, the man was Thomas Montgomery, a 47-year-old married father of two teenagers, who had spent the last 12 years working at a factory in this suburb of Buffalo. His cyber-lover from West Virginia was also in her 40’s, the police say, but had adopted her daughter’s identity, including the younger woman’s e-mail address and Web page, as her online persona.

Still, no one would have been hurt had the real world not collided with the pair’s middle-aged fantasies.

Instead, a 22-year-old co-worker of Mr. Montgomery’s was shot dead one September night as he left the power-tool plant where they were employed. Mr. Montgomery was arrested in November and charged with second-degree murder.

So, what’s the question? It comes near the close of the article, with this pronouncement by the local police:

The woman in West Virginia, whose true age became known to Mr. Montgomery only after his arrest, does not face any charges.

“She was doing absolutely nothing wrong,” Chief Rankin said. “She obviously didn’t realize what was going to happen, or that there would be a ‘love triangle.’ ”

He added: “Mr. Barrett was a completely innocent person who was, from all appearances, a fine, upstanding young man who was putting himself through college. He was simply looking for a friendship on the Internet and ended up dying for it.”

Was she “doing absolutely nothing wrong?” What do you think?

Later, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an APWire version of the story: 22-year-old killed amid Internet lies; pdf