JEFF LYTLE: I was planning to write about Internet political campaigning this week

Naples Daily News Editorial Editor Jeff Lytle

Naples Daily News Editorial Editor Jeff Lytle

I was planning to write about Internet political campaigning this week.

Jon Stewart did a "Daily Show'' piece about overly friendly "personal" emails from President Barack Obama.

That got me thinking about the tsunami of stuff I get each and every day — candidates' press releases and fundraising pitches aimed directly at seniors and others glued to their computers. The net effect is that of a daily soap opera that is portrayed as vitally important to the ultimate plot.

There is always a villain — Obama or some other Democrat — targeted for leverage.

It is weird. A 24/7 frenzy.

The fundraising potential among such a rapt audience of insiders seems awesome.

Wisconsin's embattled Gov. Scott Walker even took to the web on Easter Sunday to raise money to combat "liberal activists.''

There was a press release before Easter from Trey Radel, the former TV anchorman and morning Fox talk-radio king seeking the GOP nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, about raising $10,000 in eight days.

$10 at a time.

All online.

"Our campaign embraces traditional, conservative values and principles,'' Radel's press release about the "money bomb'' says, "but we are getting our message across to people of all ages in modern ways.

"...We are not stuck in the same old way of doing things.''

The release went on to say Friends of Trey Radel is "working on a network that will make use of technology in ways that this district has never seen before.''

Message received — loud and clear.

My plans to write about all this were going by the wayside with pressing matters including the Naples Zoo, County Commissioner Tom Henning's real estate deals and financial disclosures, county government's petulance and new ambulance service plans piling up ... until I got Pat Barton's email letter to the editor.

The longtime Republican player told of a Radel campaign move against a leading opponent, Chauncey Goss, son of former U.S. Rep. Porter Goss of Sanibel Island.

Barton wrote:

"Last week I was surprised to learn that Friends of Trey Radel had bought the rights to chaunceygoss.com, chaunceygoss.net and chaunceygoss.org. This occurred in March and April of 2011, many months before Mr. Radel declared himself a candidate for Congress and, in fact, while he was still working as a talk show host on local Fox News Radio. It was also prior to the time when Chauncey Goss announced his candidacy for the District 19 seat.

"All this raises some questions of the ethics of Mr. Radel's campaign. When asked about it, Mr. Radel did not fess up, which speaks to his lack of character. Any candidate can purchase potential or actual competitor's 'identities' off the Internet. But, should they? Congressional campaigns are serious business — this ploy was sophomoric.

"We need men and women of character in Washington. Mr. Radel has shown he does not possess the right integrity for the job.''

Barton based her facts on a story carried by the Sunshine State News service.

It quoted Goss as calling the domain name acquistion "a little stalker-ish,'' adding it would be "creepy'' if a private citizen had done so.

The news service report says Goss has the last laugh: "I wouldn't ask people to type in chaunceygoss.com because I can't even spell it ... His campaign site is gossforcongress.com.''

Last laugh, that is, as long as those web addresses remain dormant or empty, as they are now.

If Radel's campaign puts up fake Goss sites at those addresses, it could get ugly.

Casual web users looking for helpful background information — imagine that — about ambushed candidates can be in for big surprises. A case study comes in a New York congressional race. Compare the real — janecorwin.com — with the plant — janecorwin.org, with the slogan: "Protecting the status quo and taking your tax dollars.'' It goes on, "Together we can make delicious soup from the bones of the poor.''

As Goss puts it for Sunshine State News, "It really comes down to a question of character for any candidate."

The web site upname.com does say one of the domain names — chaunceygoss.com — is for sale for up to $5,000; chaunceygoss.net is listed as negotiable.

Radel's reponse to all this is as equally disappointing. The once open and engaging talk show host offers nothing beyond the pre-fabricated spin and rhetoric of an aide, Matt Pusateri:

"We are not going to publicize our strategy to win this campaign, whether it is for the Internet, TV, radio or mail.

"When we began our campaign, we began to do what you might think any campaign would — prepare and strategize.

"Our campaign is a cutting edge 21st-century campaign ..."For far too long, the Democrats have owned the Internet. Status quo Republicans and status quo candidates need to recognize that modern technology is a key to winning the hearts and minds of America.

"We are proud to say that both on the Internet ad on the ground, we are building a massive grassroots team of Radel Republicans.

"Again, we are not going to publicize our campaign strategy and we do not expect any other campaigns to do so.''

Radel does offer one more thing. While declining to say whether he has claimed any other candidates' would-be domain names, Radel calls all this "Internet 101.''

The weirdest part of this path to Washington is that Radel does not have to care a whit what anyone else thinks. He has his core constituency and aims to stay wired to them in such a huge, fragmented primary election field.

Anyway, if Radel wants to dabble in intrigue, remember: Goss' dad used to be director of the CIA.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 8

ConservativeinNaples writes:

So Radel purchased Goss' domain names in March 2011? I thought he stayed on the radio until this winter. He was using our public airwaves to promote himself that whole time while running for Congress. The last person I want in Washington is someone who is deceitful and sneaky. We have enough of them already. Radel has shown his true colors and I don't like what I see.

brown writes:

Please vote for Mr. Goss. He's intelligent and competent! Trey is neither.

bill34103 writes:

IS THIS A JOKE? I am no spring chicken but how old are you Mr Lytle?

The story is about Chancey Goss not preparing. NOt radel.

And Radel not intelligent? You mean the guy that speaks four languages built and up sold businesses. I know him but go look at his bio.

Besides what is goss doing in his campaign? Hes not. He is the son of a washington insider. Just moved here from washington and thinks like washington.

THINKS HE IS ENTITLED TO EVERYTHING. go back to washington. We want someone from here to represent the people.

tjohn#222071 writes:

Anyone running for office that is not technically or Internet savvy had better have staff that are or they deserve what they get. Age is no excuse, sorry. Ignorance is no excuse at this point. If you can't use a smart phone you better get out of the race. Thanks for helping me decide to send Trey my meager contribution this year, Jeff.

5thavenuesunshine writes:

It is fun to note that all of the Radel apologists are quick to condemn Goss for failing to purchase his domain name. The way I read this story is that Radel purchased these last March well before either candidate announced. Why would Goss have purchased his name then? He didn't decide to run until Connie Mack made an announcement in November. By Friends of Trey logic, every living person should buy their own name now just in case trolls like Radel want to vacuum up their names. I don't know the law here, but I have a feeling there is an issue with cybersquatting and identity theft. I imagine the lawyers will figure it all out eventually. In the meantime, I will send my meager contribution to Goss because he has experience and integrity - both of which elude Radel.

swfl_ff writes:

This story just confirms my opinion on Radel. He has used the airwaves to push his candidacy all along. He is every bit the slime ball I thought he was.

My vote will be going to Mr Goss.

rockpenn writes:

this story should be very troubling to every voter in congressional district 19. any pol. who would steal a person's identity and then boast about it tells you something about thier lack of moral grounding. someone needs to explain to mr radel that identity theft whether for economic fraud or political fraud is still a serious matter. a person comes into this world with only the good name of his/her forebearers. even before a baby recieves swaddling clothes they have a name with all the honor and good deeds accumulated thru the generations by those who bore the name. for mr radel to steal mr goss's identity for political gain and then to brag about how smart he is for doing so -- says volume about his lack of charactor. my question to mr radel is -- if you are so corrupt before even going to washington that you would stoop this low, how dishonest will you be with the voters once in power?

brown writes:

Back to the funeral business for Trey.

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