“If I had said something critical about Marco Rubio, or John Kasich, or Ben Carson, there was no response on Twitter whatsoever, dead,” Nehring said about his cable news appearances on behalf of Cruz during last year’s campaign. “However, if I was critical of Donald Trump, I would get a torrent of negative comments on Twitter.”

Nehring said when he looked closely at those accounts, they fit into similar parameters: no personally identifiable profile picture, no location listed, and certain buzzwords in the profile description.

“The tone was always extremely hysterical, not something that I would see from typical conservative activists,” said Nehring, a former chairman of the California Republican Party and the Republican Party of San Diego County.