For some time, the Mitt Rommey campaign was the beneficiary of a very odd domain redirect. Instead of the domain SomeECards.co sending visitors to SomeECards.com, a real website and service, those unlucky mistypers were sent to the official Mitt Romney campaign ‘About’ page.
Who was behind the redirect? No one knows. As The Daily Dot reported at the time:
The identity of the person who owns Someecards.co is being protected using Domains By Proxy, a GoDaddy affiliate that helps keeps domain information private.
On the same topic is a USA Today report from earlier this year, in which a campaign strategy of setting up ‘micro-sites’ was detailed. These focused websites were set up as both offensive tools – to ding the competition – and as defensive positions – buy a domain so the other guy can’t.
As the USA Today noticed, both major presidential campaigns have spent heavily on domain registrations:
All told, the Romney campaign has spent more than $32,261 on domain-related purchases. The Obama campaign has spent $29,627 on “domain websites,” according to campaign-finance reports.
Fast forward to today, and there is fresh news out today from a private individual, whose personal name domain – VladGyster.com – after falling into dregistration, ended up becoming a redirect to Mitt Romney’s website’s ‘Jobs’ page.
From private correspondence with Mr. Vlad Gyster, here’s what happened: The folks who snagged the domain name after it become open never annoyed Vlad, but instead offered, via the address itself, the option to buy it back at what he described as ‘markup.’
Following, the domain was transferred over to a much more ‘legitimate’ domain nameserver. After that happened, it became a redirect jumping off point to Mitt Romney’s patch of the Internet.
There are two things interesting about this. First, recall that the USA Today noted that the SomeECards redirect used the company Domains By Proxy to hide its information? Here’s a screenshot of the information concerning the current registry of vladgyster.com:
A final, small piece to this, and one that might not be too critical. That in mind, remember that Vlad realized the domain had been changed when he was alerted to a nameserver change? From his note to TNW, this is what GoDaddy sent him:
For whatever it is worth, that’s the same main nameserver that other Mitt Romney-affiliated websites use. For example, in the USA Today piece, the website O-The-Amateur.com was mentioned. Here are its records:
What this means
It appears that the Mitt Romney campaign is working with folks who own domains to set up redirects to funnel visitors to its campaign website. Evil? Nope. A bit underhanded? Yep. It does smell a bit desperate, I’ll admit.
Early in its investigation today, TNW reached out to the Mitt Romney campaign for comment and clarification. So far we have not heard back.
This is not 100%, but it there is enough pointing in a single direction to make us fold our arms and smirk.
Top Image Credit: Austen Hufford