At this point, if you're Julia Hurley, you have to be hoping that all publicity is good publicity, because her name has been in the news lately for a lot of strange stuff. This time, it's that someone bought her domain name — hurleyforhouse.com — and redirected it to the website of her Republican opponent, Kent Calfee.
That's not the strange part. The strange part is that Hurley seems angry and confused that this could happen. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel,
"I think that this is dirty politics at its best," Hurley said. "I think Mr. Calfee should be ashamed of himself and if he did not do it, he should reprimand whoever in his camp did."
"And if he doesn't know who did it, he should find out."
This about takes my breath away and I wish that Bob Fowler had asked her how, exactly, she proposed Calfee do that. This isn't a matter of Calfee (or somebody associated with him) hiring hackers to break into a domain legally owned by Hurley and redirecting it to Calfee's site. Hurley no longer owned the domain.
In other words, this isn't someone stealing Hurley's car to use it in a junkyard derby, which would rightfully be upsetting. This is Hurley abandoning her car, getting it towed, leaving it at the junkyard when she could have gone and picked it up at any time, and then being surprised when it eventually ends up on a junkyard derby.
And much like the situation with the Beacon Center of Tennessee allowing their old Twitter handle (@tcpr) to lapse and thus fall into the hands of someone looking to yank Drew Johnson's chain, perhaps the most surprising aspect of the whole thing is not that someone realized the URL or Twitter account was available and unguarded, but that they used it for such low-level nefarious purposes.
After all, Hurley's old website just goes to her Republican opponent's current website. What if it redirected to video of her instructing a dude to hang her dog out the window of her moving car? Or to old news stories of her defacing Tennessee property or haranguing an officer of the law? It could be much, much worse. (And, honestly, is there no one in the House or on staff to explain this to Hurley? Or has she alienated everyone over there that there's literally no one who will save her from hoisting herself on her own petard?)
Trace Sharpe has some words of advice for politicians and other public figures when it comes to this kind of stuff:
If you plan on running for office in 10 years, buy your name now, reserve your twitter name, make sure you are controlling your identity or even your business’ identity online so no one else has it. And don’t do this stuff as an afterthought, make it a priority. Don’t trust it to just anybody, do it yourself. Also, if you are giving your identity to an intern or a staff member, make damned sure that you know what they are doing because your name is on it. Not theirs, yours, so keep that in mind.
As Sharpe says at the end, "Control your own story or someone else will." If every single member of the General Assembly isn't checking this week to make sure that they still own URLs they've used in the past or URLs that would seem obviously to be them, they are fools. (cough*teamronramsey.com*cough)