Web pages bearing the names of three Republican candidates in the 19th Congressional District aren't their websites at all -- and they're not very complimentary.
In fact, the sites -- chaunceygoss.com, kreegelforcongress.com and aubuchonforcongress.com -- blast the candidates with a series of talking points and Internet links.
The faux sites are the latest weapon in a cyber war waged by Trey Radel, a rival GOP hopeful. Each site contains a link to "Friends of Trey Radel," where viewers can see a compendium of complimentary websites and articles about Radel.
The race to succeed Rep. Connie Mack, R-Naples, is a spirited one, with nearly a dozen candidates vying for attention in the heavily GOP district.
With his aggressive online tactics, Radel, a former reporter and radio talk-show host, has turned it into "Domain-gate."
As Sunshine State News first reported, Radel's campaign began buying up domain names of prospective GOP opponents nearly a year before he formally announced his candidacy.
"It looks like this guy will do anything to get elected -- even resorting to Washington-style dirty tricks," said Josh Cooper, spokesman for state Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral.
State Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, said, "The issue here is not the content of these sites. What is at issue is Mr. Radel's integrity."
The faux Aubuchon and Kreegel sites -- using the headline "These Are The Facts" -- assail the lawmakers for "increasing your taxes" and supporting the high-speed rail project, which Gov. Rick Scott rejected.
To which Kreegel responded:
"The facts appear to be that Mr. Radel purchased the domain names of private citizens more than a year ago, yet he denied it. The facts seem to bear out that Mr. Radel's intentions all along, for more than a year, were to smear the good name of these citizens, myself included," Kreegel said.
Matt Pusateri, head of the Friends of Trey Radel, declined to discuss the website purchases, but has promised a "cutting edge, conservative Republican campaign."
"For years, the Democrat Party has owned the Internet.Not anymore.Our campaign is changing the face of Republican politics in Florida today," he told Sunshine State News last month.
The Radel-owned Chaunceygoss.com site attacks the Sanibel resident for his Washington, D.C., roots and his former employment in the federal government. The Web page is currently listed for sale online for "$5,000 (negotiable)."
Radel has declined to speak about the website controversy but, in an earlier interview, declared, "People are fed up with career politicians."
Contact Kenric Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 801-5341.