News and Tribune

Clark County

April 4, 2007

DOT-COMMANDEERING: Waiz has Galligan, Republicans have Waiz, but domain snatching is hardly new in politics

Type your name plus “.com” into your Web browser and see what happens. Maybe it’s already been registered by your Google-twin, who just happened to beat you to it.

But if you’re seeking political office, there might be more to it than that. Last month, The Evening News and The Tribune reported that Jeffersonville Mayor Rob Waiz and his campaign team purchased Internet domain names that could have been used by his opponent, former mayor Tom Galligan. Specifically, Waiz’s campaign purchased tomgalligan.com, constituents feel about it, Waiz wasn’t the first politician to employ such a strategy. And, like it or not, many insiders say such a practice has been somewhat common since the early days of the Internet.

“From a marketing standpoint, it’s smart,” said Vern Eswine, owner of New Albany-based The Marketing Company.

Having the right Web site name is incredibly important, he said, especially in a political campaign. In the early days of the Internet, companies — not just political campaigns — ‘stole’ domains all the time. A company would purchase a dot-com better suited for its competition, then sell it back at a hefty price, he said. There is still an element on the Internet that continues that practice, Eswine said, although, it’s not as common as it used to be now that many of the best Web addresses are taken.

Political campaigns are something Eswine and his company have walked away from, because such practices still continue in politics. It’s not something he wants his company to be associated with, Eswine said.

For the record, Waiz has been made a victim as well in the battle over domain names. According to an Internet domain name search, Robwaiz.com is owned by Edward Stoess, a former Floyd County Republican Party worker who is now facing murder charges in Kentucky and is effectively out of the local political scene.

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