You might assume it was Romney’s team that scooped up the anti-Perry Web addresses with hopes of launching sites attacking Romney’s chief rival for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Not so, says the Romney campaign.
Such is the latest mystery of Campaign 2012.
The mystery is tough to unravel, because whoever bought the addresses hid his or her identity behind Domains by Proxy, a third-party company frequently used to shield the owners of Web addresses.
The same company was used to register mittromney.com. But a Romney spokesman said that the campaign does not own the Perry domains in question. The campaign would not say which domains it bought Sept. 2.
The recent transactions open a window onto the often secretive online underworld of presidential politics. Along with knocking on doors and airing television spots, campaigns try to blanket their messages — pro and con — across the Internet, which has a whole set of rules and tricks.
A Washington Post analysis of federal campaign spending reports shows that President Obama and Romney spent thousands
of dollars this summer at GoDaddy.com.
Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee reported spending a combined $8,065 at GoDaddy.com this year, and Romney’s campaign reported spending $12,097 on domains. (Of that, Romney’s campaign spent $9,061 buying domains previously owned by his Free & Strong America PAC, since the names cannot be transferred.) Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) reported spending $208 with companies that sell domains, and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the race in August, reported spending $668.
The Perry campaign said it had not bought many domains; it reported no such expenditures in its campaign finance report filed last week.
“The public is more interested in how the candidates can create jobs and improve the economy, not how many domain names you can rack up,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner said. “We’re not running for student body council here. This is for president of the United States.”
But Perry’s opponents and other parties are buying up domains about Perry. In most cases, the addresses have not been put to use and lead to empty Web pages.
In several instances, anti-Perry domains were bought on the same dates that the Romney or Obama campaigns reported making transactions at GoDaddy.com, according to an analysis of online domain-registration records.
On Aug. 15, two days after Perry launched his campaign, Obama’s campaign spent $3,958 at GoDaddy.com. At least 70 domains containing Perry’s name were bought on the same date.
Among the domain names that were registered anonymously: americansagainstperry.com, christians4rickperry.com,