Web surfers who type in www.asahutchinson.com will be redirected to an LGBT chatroom by an Arkansan who says he’ll use the domain name in the next election to discuss Hutchinson’s record on gay rights.
Dylan Hailey explained in the chat room that he was taking the step because of “several anti-gay bills”: the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Hutchinson supported and signed into law this past session; a law meant to prevent local governments from enacting anti-discrimination ordinances, which Hutchinson allowed to be enacted without his signature; and his vote in Congress in 1999 to prevent gays in Washington, D.C., from adopting children.
“So, I noticed his website was available, AsaHutchinson.com, so I have purchased it and redirected the traffic to the forum. I will hold on to the site in case he runs for re-election in the future and will update it then based on his record as Governor during this term,” Hailey wrote in the chat room.
Hutchinson’s office said it did not have a comment about the matter. Terry Benham, a principal with the Republican-oriented political consulting firm Impact Management Group (which is a Talk Business & Politics polling partner), said, “This is pretty common and happens sometimes because after the election public officials, like Gov. Hutchinson, are focused on serious issues and a thoughtful dialogue and digital predators are focused on causing mischief.”
On the site Reddit.com on the “Gaybros” forum, Hailey said he did the same thing to Idaho state Rep. Paul Shepherd. He tweeted on July 26, “Politicians really need to keep tabs on their websites and renew them on time, just bought a few more from Congressmen to Governors.”
Dr. Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College and another polling partner of Talk Business & Politics, said candidates typically lock up all domain names that could be related to their own names, and he’s surprised that some entity affiliated with Hutchinson didn’t buy www.asahutchinson.com. A former state legislative candidate, he said, “I have all the Jay Barths.”
“If anybody is an independent businessperson or an independent contractor or potential candidate, it’s just one of those things you do,” he said.
Barth said it would not be a major distraction for Hutchinson. He’s not running for re-election, and while the site will allow Hailey to make a point, “I don’t think it’s damaging in any way to him politically. It just becomes maybe a slight nuisance, but it’s not the kind of thing that has definitive, real political harm to him.”