A journalist who has made a career attacking the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) also has an extensive criminal history, including drunk driving charges, possession of exotic hallucinogens, and the attempted invasion of a senior center while screaming homophobic slurs.
Beau Hodai is a reporter for PR Watch, a publication of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). He previously worked for In These Times, a far-left labor publication. His reporting on ALEC—a conservative group that crafts model legislation—has been central to the coordinated campaign by progressive organizations to attack the organization. He has appeared on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation as an "expert" on the group. He also founded DBA Press, an online watchdog publication.
Before he made his name exposing the inner workings of ALEC, however, Beau Hodai was known as Mohamad Hodai, a journalist with a long criminal rap sheet. Mugshots obtained by the Free Beacon confirm the two are the same person and an editor for the Tucson Weekly, to which Hodai contributed, said that Beau is a name Hodai "sometimes goes by."
A Carbon County News article reported that Mohamad Hodai was charged in 2011 with assault with a weapon—later lowered to negligent endangerment in a plea hearing. As part of his plea agreement, Hodai was ordered to forfeit his knife, the weapon evidently in question, to police. "Beau Hodai" wrote the article.
Professor Stephen Ward, the director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, declined to comment on Hodai specifically, but said, "In general, the ethics for this type of alleged case is clear."
"It would be unethical to cover yourself in a court case, and it would be certainly unethical to do so without telling your readers," Ward wrote in an email to the Free Beacon. "The principle at the heart of these ethical beliefs is the central ethical principle of the independence of the reporter from the subject or source of the story that they write about. This principle is enshrined in major codes of journalism ethics."
The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics advises reporters to "disclose unavoidable conflicts" of interest.
The Carbon County News did not return multiple requests for comment.
When reached by phone, a spokeswoman for the Center for Media and Democracy first denied that "Beau Hodai" was an alias. When pressed further if Hodai’s real first name was "Mohamad," she told the Free Beacon she would have to call back later.
Numerous follow-up calls to the Center for Media and Democracy have not been returned. The Center for Media and Democracy is a progressive watchdog funded by many liberal foundations and philanthropic groups, including George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
A spokeswoman for In These Times said Hodai had been hard to reach by email and phone over the past few months.
DBA Press did not return multiple requests for comment.
According to a Worldpress.com article published in 2009, "Mohamad Hodai attended the University of Arizona School of Journalism and has written for several publications, including The Naughty American, NewsTarget.com, Tucson Weekly, The Pacific Daily News and The Marianas Variety."
Beau Hodai’s profile at In These Times states he "studied at the University of Arizona School of Journalism and lives in Tucson, Arizona. He has been a staff reporter for the Marianas Variety and Pacific Daily News (based in Guam), and the Carbon County News in Red Lodge, Montana."
Hodai’s profile for CMD cites his work in "PR Watch, In These Times, Prison Legal News and Extra! (magazine of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)."
In 2007, Mohamad Hodai was charged with three counts of threatening or intimidating; disorderly conduct; and criminal trespass in the third degree. According to police reports, Hodai attempted to invade a Tucson-area senior center, banging on the door, shouting, and refusing to leave.
According to two eyewitness accounts in the police report, Hodai told the employee who was refusing him entrance, "I’m going to kick your ass" and called him a "faggot."
The police report states Hodai’s speech and thought "appeared very erratic and did not make sense" after being arrested.
In April 2004, Mohamad Hodai was charged with three counts of DUI after failing a breathalyzer test with a blood alcohol level of .249. According to police reports, he rear-ended a car while riding his motorcycle. In a January In These Times article, Beau Hodai identifies himself as a motorcyclist.
In July 1999, shortly after his 18th birthday, Mohamad Hodai was arrested in Zion National Park in Utah for possession of peyote. According to police reports, a park ranger "observed a suspicious vehicle," and upon further investigation, discovered several peyote plants "were being cultivated and were in a drug free zone."
Hodai was ejected from ALEC’s 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, after hotel management said he "clearly presented a threat to the conference, based on his history."
Hodai did not return multiple requests for comment.