Pranks, Porn, and Pseudo-Surveys 

Tracking politics as it's practiced on the Web.
June 13 2000 9:00 PM

Pranks, Porn, and Pseudo-Surveys 

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Slate, the Industry Standard, and washingtonpost.com join forces to examine the effect of the Internet on Campaign 2000. 

Buying an opponent's possible Web site addresses has become one of the easiest tricks in the political book. In New Jersey, Republican operatives and an infamous online porn peddler have turned the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg into a squatter's paradise. The target: Democratic nominee Jon S. Corzine.

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Among those who have bought Corzine-related domain names is Dan Parisi, the owner of the porn site whitehouse.com—perhaps one of the Web's best-known misleading URLs.

Parisi, an avowed nonpartisan, has snatched up corzinesucks.com, an address that could be used to attack the former investment bank executive, whose actual URL is votecorzine.org. He also bought floriosucks.com during the heated primary battle between Corzine and former Democratic Gov. Jim Florio. But Republicans—and Democrats for that matter—are out of luck. Rather than selling the addresses, Parisi said in a telephone interview that he would be incorporating them as part of his forthcoming sucks.com site, which will be dedicated to railing against everyone from George W. Bush to Microsoft.

"I've always wanted some kind of thing where people can talk about politics," said Parisi, who is using the profits from his adult business to finance his new venture into negative politics.

Although GOP operatives can't snag Parisi's suck sites, they have been busy buying up other addresses. Rick Shaftan, an adviser to defeated Republican candidate Murray Sabrin, owns votejoncorzine.com, perhaps deterring accidental visitors from reaching the Democratic candidate's official site at joncorzine.com. Sabrin also owns bobfranks.org and billgormley.com, sites that could have been mistaken for the official addresses of two of Sabrin's primary opponents. (The official sites are bobfranks.com and gormleyforsenate.com.)

Scott Loughrey, a notorious cybersquatter who has bought possible domain names of numerous political candidates across the country, has also gotten involved in the New Jersey race. The Baltimore entrepreneur and programmer owns the domain name gormley2000.org, which currently redirects users to the official Franks page. In an e-mail interview with the Associated Press, Loughrey recently said his goal was "to make some money, to make social statements, (and) to have some fun."

John Carbone, a Ridgewood, N.J., attorney who has given at least $5,730 to GOP campaigns since 1996, snatched up florio2000.com, forcing Florio to settle for the less obvious florioNJ.com.

Tallying the Presidential "Bids"

Ever since Howard Stern helped flood People magazine's 1998 Most Beautiful People "poll" with votes for Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf, Internet surveys have been shunned by political professionals and embraced by struggling candidates. The official Alan Keyes Web site, for example, encouraged visitors to boost the standing of the Republican presidential also-ran in 33 online polls—and he's still winning several.

Now two Internet auctioneers are asking the supporters of the presidential candidates to make themselves heard in an intriguing new pseudo-survey. Insurance agent Dan Lutz and his artistic wife, Joan, are tallying the amount of the eBay bids they are receiving for original painted portraits of Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush. Since June 1, the couple has reported the daily total as a sort of unscientific online poll.

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