Ryan Briggs Ryan Briggs is a staff writer and connoisseur of City Hall intrigue, business dealings, neighborhood gossip and local lore. Ryan has studied, worked and resided in Philadelphia since 2004, covering politics and development issues for Hidden City, Next City and Metropolis, amongst other fine publications.
State Rep. Mark B Cohen, whose district encompasses parts of Northeast Philly, is known for many things, including spending $28,200 in taxpayer dollars on books to help himself be a "a better lawmaker", or taking nearly $40,000 in per diems in 2011 and then calling a Jewish radio host a "Nazi" for asking him to justify those expenses. I personally know him as the man I watched take a phone call on stage, in the middle of a public forum on property taxes.
However, despite being more than 15,000 words long and accompanied by nearly 500 footnotes, you won't find most of that on Rep. Cohen's remarkably lengthy and self-congratulatory Wikipedia page. In comparison, former Mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell's entry is a paltry 2,700 words, Barack Obama's a mere 9,800.
Granted, Cohen has served in Harrisburg for 39 years, but even taking into account his political longevity, nearly a decade's worth of Wikipedia editors have flagged the article for "questionable neutrality," calling most of the text "political spam." The vast majority of additions to the page stem from a single user named "Zulitz," who also authored entries for several of Cohen's relatives, and which at least one Wikipedia editor speculated might be Cohen himself.
Daily News reporter Chris Brennan first noticed the page in 2011, when it was only 12,000 words long. At that time, Cohen denied being Zulitz, but said he could "pass a message" along to his mysterious fan. Since that time, another Wikipedia user questioned how "Zulitz" could have known about Cohen's induction as a 32nd Degree Freemason, as that information is normally not publicly available. After failing to come up with a logical answer, mentions of Cohen's Masonic affiliations were purged from his entry.
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