A senior adviser for Student Association presidential candidate Tarek Al-Hariri admitted yesterday to creating fake campaign Web sites to mock SA Sen. OG Oyiborhoro.
Freddie de Sibert, a senior, registered the online domain og4sa.com Feb. 7 and had it redirect to the Wikipedia entry for “race card.” Al-Hariri said he was unaware of de Sibert’s actions until The Hatchet informed him Wednesday afternoon. De Sibert is an authorized representative for Al-Hariri’s campaign, according to the Joint Elections Committee. He also created Al-Hariri’s Web site.
Oyiborhoro (CCAS-U), who is black, said he was disappointed with the incident.
“It’s unfortunate that people lower themselves like that at this great University,” he said. “That’s not needed here on our campus at all.”
De Sibert also registered two other domains, og4gw.com and gwfeed.org, which reference Oyiborhoro and his GW F.E.E.D. initiative, said a representative from 1&1 Hosting, which provides Web hosting services.
De Sibert’s phone number was also listed in public Internet records as a contact for the three domains. He initially denied any involvement with the incident when contacted Wednesday morning, but later confessed when presented with information linking him to the domains.
Brad Hesells, an agent in the abuse department of 1&1 Hosting, confirmed that the billing information was the same for Al-Hariri’s campaign site, tarek4sa.com, and the three domains pertaining to Oyiborhoro.
“It was a stupid and immature prank meant in good fun, but not executed in good taste,” de Sibert said. “I was solely responsible for this. Tarek had no knowledge. I think my official or unofficial involvement in the campaign is done.”
Despite initial interviews, de Sibert said later Wednesday night that he planned to continue working for Al-Hariri’s campaign.
He added that he created the domains to ensure Oyiborhoro’s campaign could not use them. He said his decision to link one domain to the Wikipedia page was not meant to be malicious.
“It’s a phrase I had heard passed around. It was thoughtless. It was in my head. I have no allegations (against Oyiborhoro),” de Sibert said. “It was not intended to be a slur or humiliate him.”
The og4sa.com domain was also registered to an Idi Amin, according to public Internet records. Amin was a brutal, military dictator who ordered mass killings of Ugandans when he led the east African nation in the 1970s.
Ben Balter, chair of the JEC, said he could not comment on whether this would be considered a campaign violation, but added that the SA has created rules this year that apply to online campaigning.
“I can tell you that there are sections of the rules that pertain to impersonation, and there are sections of the rules that pertain to obstructing the elections,” Balter said. “There’s no precedent to whether or not having a URL with someone’s nickname in it and candidacy would be impersonation.”
Balter added that no one had filed a formal complaint to the JEC as of Wednesday night.