(CNN) – As recently as last week, Newt Gingrich's communications director has been criticized by editors on Wikipedia for dozens of edits he has made and requested in defense of his candidate.
While some of the changes were minor, Joe DeSantis has removed or asked to remove factual references to Gingrich's three marriages as well as mentions of ethics charges brought against him while he served as speaker of the House. These efforts continued as recently as Monday.
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Wikipedia records show DeSantis has made over 60 adjustments to entries in the online, publicly-edited encyclopedia to the biographical entry on Gingrich, the similar page on his wife, Callista, and a separate page on one of their books, Rediscovering Good in America.
DeSantis has actively lobbied for changes to the articles since mid-December in a discussion forum called "Talk" on the site, and previously from May to June of last year, though his most recent direct edit to the site was in June of 2011.
Last Tuesday, DeSantis drew the ire of an editor on the site.
"I'll raise the question in the appropriate place, but I have to say this micro-managing by a Gingrich campaign director is a matter of concern to me even though you now are identifying yourself. Pointing out factual errors is one thing, but your input should not go beyond that, even here on Talk," the editor known as Tvoz, wrote on a page devoted discussing possible edits.
The site has a conflict of interest guideline which suggests that individuals should not edit "on behalf of clients," or on subjects to which they have "close relationships" or "financial interest." But the site does allow "non-controversial edits," and DeSantis has a profile on the site which identifies his relationship to Gingrich.
DeSantis defended his changes in a statement:
"I stopped making direct edits in May 2011 because I was alerted to the COI rules," he said. "Earlier I thought that simply disclosing my affiliation was enough but it wasn't. So I started posting requests on the Talk page.
"This has been far more successful and the other editors on Wikipedia have largely received this very positively," he continued.
But several editors on the site have taken issue with his edits and requests.
"The fact that Callista is Speaker Gingrich's third wife is well-known and indisputable. Please do not remove it from her biography," wrote editor Cullen328. "Instead, please defer to the judgment of experienced editors, and raise your concerns on the talk page. Thank you."
But other editors have been more sympathetic, voicing their appreciation of DeSantis' disclosure of his affiliation.
"Many editors have pointed out your straightforwardness as an example of honorable editing by an agent," an editor known as Buster Seven posted. "I agree with their assessment."
DeSantis' edits, which began in October of 2008, included rewriting, removing, and editing lines, including several edits to references of Gingrich's marriages, according to Wikipedia edit records, which are published and publicly viewable on the site. The edits may include repairing "vandalism," such as incorrect or biased information, posted to the articles.
From the introduction to an article on Callista, DeSantis struck: "She met her husband met while he was in the House, and had an affair while he was conducting the impeachment investigation for President Bill Clinton."
On a separate occasion, he removed lines about Gingrich's first divorce and remarriage which said he approached his then-wife in the hospital following surgery.
"Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery," the article read.
When a $500,000 credit line held by Gingrich at luxury retailer Tiffany's made headlines, references to the account were added on Wikipedia, and DeSantis edited those references, including material supportive of his client published in news articles.
In April 2009, he deleted several lines on a House ethics investigation of Gingrich, replacing them with material more favorable to the former House speaker.
Minutes after posting his first edit to the site - which reworded the characterization of one of Gingrich's books - DeSantis created a user profile where he disclosed that he is employed by Gingrich. He also disclosed his connection to Gingrich in a note accompanying the first edit.
"I am the Communications Director for Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich," he wrote on the profile. "I created this profile to submit edits to his article while being fully open about my affiliation."
The site discourages edits by individuals with an interest in public understanding of the subject, but says an "editor with a self-evident interest in the matter turning up on the talk page is an indication that they are playing it straight."
Talk pages are editorial discussions within the Wikipedia community, and in the months since his most recent edit to the site, DeSantis has posted almost 50 times on these pages.
The website BuzzFeed recently noted 23 edits DeSantis made to Callista Gingrich's Wikipedia biography.DeSantis is far from the first aide to politicians, businesses, or public figures to make or suggest edits to the site.
Aides to several senators, including the current Vice President Joe Biden, have previously edited their boss's Wikipedia entries. Biden's office said the edits were intended "to make it more fair and accurate," according to a report, and other offices said their editing was to correct factual issues.
And in other instances, editing of these articles has itself become news. Following former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's mischaracterization of Paul Revere's American Revolution ride, her supporters edited Revere's Wikipedia page with Palin's version of the story.
In these situations, Wikipedia editors frequently restrict edit access to articles. Gingrich's article is currently under one such level, "semi-protected," which bars non-registered site visitors from making edits.
- CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.