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AFTRA investigates alleged Sagwatch.net founder

October 5, 2010 |  5:08 pm

Who is watching Sagwatch.net?

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists for one.

The union issued an unusual statement Tuesday afternoon, saying it was investigating claims that the mystery person who allegedly launched the website more than two years is in fact a board member of AFTRA, which not so long ago was in an open war with the larger Screen Actors Guild over turf and bargaining strategy.

The apparent identity of the site's owner had been kept under wraps, at least until an anonymous e-mail widely circulated among union members identified David Browde, a longtime AFTRA board member, as the site's alleged owner and editor. Browde's LinkedIn profile describes him as an attorney and correspondent at CBS News (AFTRA's membership includes broadcast journalists).

AFTRA said it was investigating a claim in the e-mail that Browde had violated the nondisparagement provisions between the unions in his involvement with Sagwatch, which claims to support civil discourse on issues affecting actors and eschews "faction propaganda."

The site's authors have expressed support for merging the actors' unions and often criticized the group that staunchly supported the former leadership of Alan Rosenberg, a fierce critic of AFTRA's. Rosenberg recently lost his board seat along with several others in his coalition, further solidifying support for current president Ken Howard.

AFTRA President Roberta Reardon has "repeatedly notified all AFTRA elected officials they are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity and union solidarity,'' AFTRA said in a statement. "With this in mind, we are investigating this matter."

A spokeswoman for the union declined to comment further other than to say that the union has not associated with nor funded the website and viewed it as a press outlet.

Browde could not be reached for comment.

— Richard Verrier

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