One of the more celebrated figures of The Current Year is April Reign, whose @ReignOfApril Twitter account launched the much-lauded #OscarsSoWhite hashtag a few years ago. For example, from the New York Times:
And from the Los Angeles Times:
By TRE’VELL ANDERSON JAN 23, 2018 | 1:20 PM| PARK CITY, UTAH
In January 2015, April Reign tweeted an observation of the Academy Award nominees. The hashtag she attached, #OscarsSoWhite, became a trending topic on the social media platform and resurfaced the following year when all the acting nominees for the industry’s top prize were, again, all white. It has since become a rallying cry in Hollywood and abroad for greater inclusion of marginalized voices and perspectives on screen, behind the camera and in executive offices.
Following the latest Oscar nominations Tuesday, Reign said she’s “encouraged by the incremental progress every year but there is still so much work to be done.”
“#OscarsSoWhite is very much alive and as relevant as when I created it. And until we are no longer lauding firsts after a 90-year history [of the film academy], until we can no longer count a traditionally underrepresented group’s number of nominations in a particular category on our fingers, there will be more work to do,” she said in an interview with The Times from the Sundance Film Festival.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences responded to the calls for greater inclusion by making a commitment, under former President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, to double the number of women and people of color in its membership by 2020. …
“I intend to hold them to that,” Reign added.
Here’s a video from 2018 of April Reign:
But who is this “April Reign” who is so influential in American culture today? Her many media profiles seem to be vague about her background.
April Reign’s official website says only this about her previous career:
April Reign practiced law for nearly twenty years, honing her talent for public speaking and persuasive writing, but it wasn’t until she walked away from her legal practice that she found her true passion.
iSteve commenter Giant Duck has pointed out that April Reign’s @ReignOfApril twitter account was formerly in use by Federal Election Commission official April Sands in an Obama Administration scandal linked to Sands’ ex-boss Lois Lerner. For example, here’s a bluecheck mark @ReignOfApril tweet from 2012:
I just don't understand how anyone but straight white men can vote Republican. What kind of delusional rhetorical does one use? #p2
— April (@ReignOfApril) June 4, 2012
Interestingly, the Daily Mail reported in 2014 on an Obama Administration official named April Sands, an admitted violator of the Hatch Act, who used the same @ReignOfApril Twitter handle as the famous April Reign uses today:
She was former IRS official Lois Lerner’s deputy when she was at the FEC
Like the allegations against Lerner, Sands admitted violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits government workers from advocating for candidates
And as seems to be the case with Lerner, Sands escaped prosecution because her hard drive mysteriously ‘crashed’ and was recycled
She was known as ‘Obama girl’ in her office, and a colleague recalled how she boasted that Obama’s 2012 campaign would hire her away
By David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor
PUBLISHED: 03:50 EST, 15 July 2014 | UPDATED: 04:28 EST, 15 July 2014
Republicans are investigating another Obama administration official who played politics on the job but escaped prosecution when the Federal Election Commission recycled her hard drive before evidence could be recovered.
April J. Sands resigned her position as an FEC attorney in April 2014 after investigators confronted her with tweets she sent and a video interview she conducted during work hours, advocating for the election of President Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates – and asking people to contribute to their campaigns.
When the FEC’s Office of Inspector General began the process of filing criminal charges, however, it found that the agency had destroyed her computer’s hard drive before it could be seized.
Here are a couple of screengrabs the Daily Mail published in 2014 showing April Sands, who rather looks like April Reign and has the same Twitter handle:
Nobody in the press seems to have noticed any potential connection between April Sands and April Reign, so maybe I am not interpreting this evidence correctly.
I mean, maybe April Sands and April Reign could be, uh, identical twin sisters who share a Twitter account just like they share a first name?
Or maybe more people should look into this?
Here’s a video from 2014 featuring photos of April Sands:
From the Daily Caller in 2014:
By CHUCK ROSS, Reporter 7:13 PM 07/14/2014
The Federal Election Commission recycled the computer hard drive of April Sands — a former co-worker of Lois Lerner’s — hindering an investigation into Sands’ partisan political activities, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Sands resigned from the Federal Election Commission in April after she admitted to violating the Hatch Act, which bars executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities on federal time and at federal facilities.
The twist is that Sands also worked under Lois Lerner when the ex-IRS agent — who is currently embroiled in a scandal over the targeting of conservative political groups — worked at the FEC’s enforcement division.
In a letter to FEC chairman Lee Goodman, committee chairman Darrell Issa and committee member Jim Jordan laid out Sands’ partisan activities and asked for records pertaining to the recycling of her hard drive and of the agency’s records retention policies.
Sands took part in a heavily partisan online webcam discussion from FEC offices and also operated a Twitter account with the handle @ReignOfApril which were sent during Sands’ normal working hours.
It might be a good idea for somebody who knows how to download the public contents of this @ReignOfApril Twitter account before it gets memoryholed, assuming there is a way to do this …
More from David Martosko’s 2014 article in the Daily Mail:
Lois Lerner, a former Internal Revenue Service official at the center of an alleged years-long plot to politically target tea party groups and other conservative organizations, also has seen her legal picture brightened by the IRS’s decision to render the hard drive in her government-issued computer into scrap metal.
Lerner, whose missing emails have made her a political lightning rod, was Sands’ supervisor until 2001. FEC documents indicate that as the agency’s acting general counsel, Lerner oversaw the younger attorney’s work.
Following an investigation into her partisan political activity, Sands admitted to the FEC’s Office of Special Counsel that she had violated the Hatch Act, a federal law banning partisan politicking by most government employees, and agreed not to seek employment in the federal government for two years.
The special counsel wrote that she had ‘posted dozens of partisan political tweets, including many soliciting campaign contributions to President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.’
She also ‘participated in a Huffington Post Live internet broadcast via webcam from an FEC facility, criticizing the Republican Party and then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.’
An FEC attorney who is still employed by the agency told MailOnline on Monday that Sands was known in the agency as ‘the most enthusiastic pro-Obama lawyer we had.’
‘Everyone called her Obama girl,’ said the lawyer, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on the record.
‘She probably didn’t worry about seeming too rah-rah and running afoul of the law,’ he added, ‘because she bragged to anyone who would listen that the Obama 2012 campaign was going to hire her away from the FEC.’
The attorney also said that Sands and Lerner ‘were definitely acquainted with each other’ when the two worked together in the agency’s Office of General Counsel.
‘There were two mid-level associates that Lois Lerner latched on to at the time,’ he recalled, ‘and one of them was April. Last year when Lerner got into hot water at the IRS, April made a point of telling everyone that her old boss got railroaded by the Republicans on the [Capitol] Hill.’
The Oversight Committee wrote in a statement Monday that ‘it is unclear whether Ms. Sands ever communicated with Ms. Lerner after Ms. Lerner moved to the IRS; however, the Committee is aware that Ms. Lerner maintained communication with some former FEC colleagues.’
Sands, a University of Texas at Austin Law School graduate, locked down her social media profiles on Monday after the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform blasted out a letter to FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman asking how sensitive evidence in a likely criminal case wound up in a recycling bin.
A 2016 Christian Science Monitor of April Reign asserts that Reign is a graduate of the U. of Texas law school. Perhaps it’s all an amazing coincidence that two look-alike women with the same first name and the same Twitter account graduated from the same law school?
VALUES & IDEALS
The reverberations are still being felt almost two years after April Reign created that hashtag, when Oscar nominations were announced. What will the new awards season bring?
Gregory M. Lamb, Correspondent | @GregLamb
DECEMBER 15, 2016 CAMDEN, MAINE—Jan. 15, 2015, found April Reign glued to the TV while she dressed for the day in her Washington, D.C., area home. She was eager to find out who would be nominated for that year’s Oscars, the Academy Awards.
As the names of actors and actresses, directors and costume designers, film editors and cinematographers were announced, she was suddenly struck by something about the list: None of them were people of color.
She was just beginning to use Twitter as a way to express her thoughts (today she has about 53,000 followers), so she tapped out her very first tweet on the subject: “#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair.”
The tweet was meant to be “very sarcastic and cheeky,” says Ms. Reign, an African-American and former lawyer – to convey how out of touch Hollywood was with black Americans. To her surprise, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite quickly began to be used throughout the United States and around the world.
What had started as something said in jest became something much more: the focal point for a serious discussion on “diversity and inclusion in the Oscars, and in Hollywood in general,” she says.
Some African-Americans, such as actress Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee, boycotted the ceremony. “The biggest star to take the stage during the  Academy Awards arguably was the #OscarsSoWhite controversy…,” noted an article in The Hollywood Reporter. Oscar host Chris Rock, an African-American actor and comedian, decided to participate anyway and then pulled no punches in his remarks.
Prodded by #OscarsSoWhite, Hollywood has begun to make changes. J.J. Abrams (who has directed installments of the wildly successful “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” movie franchises) announced that his production company, Bad Robot, would give women and people of color more opportunities to write, direct, and act. “The Oscars controversy was a wake-up call,” Mr. Abrams, one of the highest-profile directors and producers in the industry, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Prior to the 2016 ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars, announced in a statement that its 51-member board had voted unanimously to approve significant changes that would diversify the academy’s membership. The board committed to doubling the number of minorities and women in the academy’s membership by 2020 to better reflect society as a whole.
Reign has been gratified by the surprising influence of #OscarsSoWhite. She hears anecdotes “all the time” from people in the entertainment industry who say that since the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, “it’s been a little bit easier” for them.
Reign herself has made a dramatic shift in her life, away from her legal career into one that involves writing and talking about issues that energize her.
She grew up as a “military brat” and went to high schools in three states: Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia, where she graduated. She chose to attend the University of Texas at Austin, she says, “because it had a very good business program and a very good law school.”
So both Aprils went to the U. of Texas law school.
After graduating from the law school she began practicing, specializing in campaign finance and later working in a general practice.
“I was in a very comfortable place,” she recalls. “The money was good, and the job wasn’t difficult. But I wasn’t feeling creative, and there wasn’t any passion in my work. I wasn’t enjoying getting up and going to work. And I said, ‘I want to do something different.’ ”
She told her husband she wanted to quit her practice of law. …
April Reign didn’t mention that April Sands was suspended from the practice of law:
SANDS, April Juanita – Indefinite Suspension by Consent on January 5, 2016, for violating the Hatch Act on numerous occasions while working for the Federal Election Commission by soliciting political contributions.
Misc. Docket AG No. 28, Sept. Term, 2015. 128 A.3d 1071 (2016)445 Md. 690
ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND, Petitioner v. April Juanita SANDS, Respondent.
Court of Appeals of Maryland.
January 5, 2016.
ORDER This matter came before the Court on the Joint Petition of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland and Respondent, April Juanita Sands, to indefinitely suspend the Respondent from the practice of law. The Court having considered the Petition and the record herein, it is this 5th day of January, 2016.
ORDERED, that Respondent, April Juanita Sands, be and she is hereby indefinitely suspended from the practice of law in the State of Maryland for violation of Rule 8.4(d) of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct; and it is further
ORDERED, that the Clerk of this Court shall remove the name of April Juanita Sands from the register of attorneys in the Court and certify that fact to the Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland and all Clerks of all judicial tribunals in this State in accordance with Maryland Rule 16-772(d).
But as far as I can tell from Google searches, nobody has ever linked “April Reign” and “April Sands” online before.
Thanks, Giant Duck!