Sneaky website addresses that purport to represent an anti-incumbent school board candidate and groups but instead lead to opponents' webpages are stirring controversy in the Capistrano Unified School District.
One of the misleading URLs — www.bill-perkins.com — uses the name of a candidate for the Aliso Viejo board seat, but instead takes browsers to Perkins' rival, incumbent school board President Gary Pritchard.
Pritchard could not be reached for comment.
Other URLs hijack the names of people or organizations that have questioned Capo Unified policies. For example, www.dawnurbanek.com reroutes web surfers to the website of Trustee John Alpay, who is running for re-election in San Clemente. Likewise, a website purporting to represent Hold CUSD Accountable actually leads to Capistrano Unified Children First, which is often at odds with the first group.
There’s even a fake Patch URL that leads to Children First.
Alpay could not be reached for comment.
Children First’s President Fran Sdao said her group has nothing to do with the misleading re-directs.
“We have no control what individuals do on their own,” Sdao said. “There are rogue characters in every campaign."
She added: “We have been trying to stay above board for the past three years. We’re parents, not political operatives.”
The misleading websites were registered through GoDaddy.com. Children First’s recent financial forms show a $134.61 payment to that company, but Children First Treasurer Gail Benda said it was for re-registration of the group’s own website, www.capounifiedchildrenfirst.org/.
Perkins said he has contacted an attorney about the matter to get GoDaddy's subsidiary, Domains by Proxy, which shields the identity of domain holders, to reveal who owns the URL that includes his name.
“The only thing you have in this life that they can’t take away from you is your name,” he said.
Julie Collier, president of Parents Advocate League, has also contacted a lawyer for what she believes is misappropriation of her name with www.juliecollier.com and the name of her nonprofit organization, www.parentsadvocateleague.com, which doesn’t endorse anyone for CUSD trustee.
“At the very best, it’s a childish, immature prank that you wouldn’t expect from adults,” said Collier’s lawyer, Wayne Tate, who is also representing his organization, Hold CUSD Accountable, in its efforts to combat yet another redirecting URL, www.holdcusdaccountable.com.
“More ominously, it could have substantial legal consequences,” Tate said.
Urbanek fired off a letter to GoDaddy on Monday morning, copying the missive to all CUSD trustees, Superintendent Joe Farley and the Orange County district attorney’s office.
A vocal critic of the district, Urbanek also sent an email to her supporters:
“I want to make you aware that the Domain name DAWNURBANEK.COM is being redirected to the website for Trustee John Alpay for the purpose of deceiving parents into believing that I support John Alpay for Trustee. I DO NOT SUPPORT JOHN ALPAY,” she wrote.
The state Fair Political Practices Commission said misleading website addresses don't fall under its purview.
A GoDaddy spokeswoman said such matters are "something we've dealt with in the past," but declined to comment further.