Former Hedgie Slammed For Tweets During Hurricane

Nov 1 2012 | 12:43pm ET

Ex-hedge fund analyst Shashank Tripathi apparently doesn't think his former industry is reviled quite widely enough.

The man better known as "ComfortablySmug" spent the Monday of Hurricane Sandy's visit to New York City spreading rumors, misinformation and, according to some, outright lies about the devastating storm's impact. Among Tripathi's claims, all posted on Twitter, were that Con Edison had begun to shut down power to all of Manhattan and that the New York Stock Exchange had flooded—claims quickly dismissed by the utility company and the Big Board.

Tripathi also claimed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had become trapped in Manhattan and "has been taken to a secure shelter," and said that the entirety of the New York City Subway system had been flooded and would take at least a week to get back on line.

New York subway trains began running—on a limited basis—this morning, three days after Tripathi's tweets.

Tripathi's claims were widely circulated on Twitter and several were even reported by major news outlets.

Once outed by Buzzfeed, however, Tripathi took a somewhat different line.

"I wish to offer the people of New York a sincere, humble and unconditional apology," Tripathi wrote on Twitter. He appended a link to a longer note, writing, "While some would use the anonymity and instant feedback of social media as an excuse, I take full responsibility for my actions."

But despite that pat on his own back, Tripathi did not identify himself. It did, however, cost the Republican Party operative his job as campaign manager for Christopher Wight, who is making a long-shot bid for a seat in Congress from New York, in a district covering parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Tripathi has also been a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney's presidential bid—his last contribution to which seems to have been a fake re-tweet from President Barack Obama's account reading, "If you are trapped in New York City and are running out of food, remember to eat your dogs first before going outside." And it could get worse.

City Councilman Peter Vallone said he has asked the Manhattan District Attorney's Office to consider criminal charges against Tripathi.

"The Manhattan DA is taking this very seriously," Vallone told Buzzfeed. "I hope the fact that I'm asking for criminal charges to be seriously considered will make him much less comfortable and much less smug."

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