Trey Radel Shuts 'Domain-gate,' Will Give Up Websites

By: Kenric Ward | Posted: April 26, 2012 3:55 AM
Trey Radel

Trey Radel

Accused of being a "cyber-squatter," or worse, GOP congressional candidate Trey Radel on Wednesday began shutting down Web pages that carried the names of three rival candidates in District 19.

Radel's campaign also said it would surrender the rights to some 23 domain names of his opponents.

As first reported by Sunshine State News, personal domain names for Chauncey Goss, Paige Kreegel, Gary Aubuchon and Brian Owens were purchased early last year by the "Friends of Trey Radel," some 11 months before Radel announced his candidacy.

SSN's series of stories sparked a storm of controversy in the crowded GOP race to succeed Rep. Connie Mack, R-Naples, and threatened to blow up on Radel.

That the "Friends'" purchases of rival domain names did not appear anywhere on Radel's financial disclosure forms raised the specter of Federal Election Commission violations.

And as "Domain-gate" swung wide open, Goss told Sunshine State News he was considering filing a complaint with the FEC or pursuing legal action.

"[Radel] was feeling the heat," Owens' campaign manager said of the former radio talk-show host.

"We will be working on removing the content from the live websites today," Radel campaign manager Matt Pusateri informed Sunshine State News via email on Wednesday morning.

As for ownership of the domain names, Pusateri stated:
"We have started reaching out to the other campaigns to inform them about our offer to donate and coordinate appropriate domain transfers."

Kreegel, a state representative from Punta Gorda, said he was "pleased to hear Mr. Radel has taken my advice."

"When I was first informed of the identity thefts by Friends of Trey Radel Inc., I requested that Mr. Radel return the identities to their rightful owners."

Kreegel added, "We must rise above the tactics used by the left and address the problems facing our country and present solutions to those problems. Anything less is a disservice to the voters of CD 19."

Goss, a former deputy staff director for the House Budget Committee and son of former congressman and ex-CIA Director Porter Goss, said he was gratified that Radel's gambit was exposed sooner rather than later.

"What the Radel campaign did was wrong. It was an underhanded negative campaign tactic. The true sign of a person is what they do when they don't think anyone is looking.

"Now that Trey has been caught in the act, he is scurrying for cover and his donation of the domain name is nothing more than self-preservation," Goss said.

Radel's camp maintained that it accomplished its goal of showing the other candidates' records.

"We wanted to show their voting records of raising taxes and support for big-government projects, like rail in Florida," Pusateri said in a statement. "The sites were not positive or negative. They simply listed the facts. We hope Southwest Florida sees who the true fiscal conservative is in this race."

But, in the end, Pusateri said turning over the websites was the right thing to do.

“Many of our supporters feel that our opponents have a right to the domains we purchased. Our responsibility is to listen to the people. Donating these websites to the other campaigns reflects our ability and willingness to do just that,” he said.

Owens' campaign manager, Rockie Pennington, said the online tactics were "pretty much universally condemned."

Pennington cited a survey of the Southwest Florida congressional district showing that 77 percent of GOP primary voters are over age 55.

"Most felt like this was identity theft," Pennington said of Radel's purchase of personal domain names. "Younger voters are more laissez-faire about it, but older voters are more protective of their identity."

Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

Comments (7)

11:03AM APR 27TH 2012
No one has mentioned the interesting timing of this announcement, which came the day after Radel lost big in a Naples straw poll to Byron Donalds - a Naples Tea Party leader and conservative option to Radel in the race. Donalds got 61% of the straw poll vote against Radel's 16% in a forum attended by over 500 - mostly Tea Party/912 and church members. People at the forum were wavering in their support for Radel because of the domain issue and many switched to support Mr. Donalds.
Robert Lloyd
8:25AM APR 27TH 2012
>>Kreegel added, "We must rise above the tactics used by the left and address the problems facing our country and present solutions to those problems.<<

Decency and commonsense still pervade at times. Thank you Mr Kreegel!
William B
6:31AM APR 27TH 2012
You make a great point. Radel worked at WINK and his wife works for Fox in Fort Myers and coincidentally neither of them covered this story. This is ironic because Fox has an aggressive investigative reporting section. I guess election law is too complicated for them. If the media down there are going to give Radel a pass just because he and his wife are one of them, shame.
David K.
10:08AM APR 26TH 2012
For far too long publications concentrate on the "big four" cities in Florida. If I am not mistaken this was Connie Mack's seat. So I for one am glad to read about other races in Florida. Also, real glad to see you follow through on a story. So many times we are given the beginning of what promises to be good stories and then never hear the outcome.

Nice to see this snake fold as well.
9:12AM APR 26TH 2012
Great story! Nice to read some actual news :)
5:12AM APR 26TH 2012
This is excellent work on your part Mr. Ward. Not only did You break this story but you followed through on important developments and then brought us the conclusiion. We need more stories like these in that you are actually allowed to report the news.

As for Mr. Radel one word comes to mind. TOAST!
4:20PM APR 26TH 2012
I agree! Mr. Ward and the Sunshine State News did a great job of covering this story. If only our local news would do the same. Wink News finally, 2 weeks after the fact, did a story on this scandal, then hours later they pulled it off their web site. The intro is still there but when you click on the link, it sends you to a different story! Trey was an anchorman for them, so I'm wondering, who made the call to yank the story?

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