Trey Radel is hoping to represent Florida in the United States House of Representatives. The run has been rocky for the Republican and Tea Party favorite, especially after it was discovered that his campaign had made interesting use of the internet to get him ahead. Radel stands accused of buying domains using the names of rival members of his party to defame them. During the scandal, which broke in April, Radel sort of shrugged and said that as a “business guy and entrepreneur,” he bought “all sorts of domain names.”
The politician and conservative radio host wasn’t kidding. According to a recent report by the social justice news organization Mother Jones, starting in 2005 Radel’s now-defunct company Trey Enterprises registered a number of sexually suggestive domains. These were mostly in Spanish — cojible.com (which translates to “fuckable”), casadelasputas.com (“house of whores”), mamadita.com (“blowjob”). Trey Enterprises also registered sexguide.com.
Though registered publicly in 2005, most of these listings disappeared at the end of 2010 when they began being registered privately through Domains By Proxy. Casadelasputas.com remained registered until Mother Jones contacted Radel about the sites. That’s when the domain registration was canceled. Though it’s unclear if they ever held any content, Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones speculates that the URLs were probably registered as “part of a domain parking scheme, where placeholder sites are populated with ads and links, for which the domain owner receives a small fee based on click-through rates.”
I have no interest in shaming Radel for his URLs. I support the purchase of domains with the intent to create adult content, whether for profit or fun. What bothers me about this story is seeing someone exploiting sex for profit while supporting a platform that, under the guise of “family values,” shames sexual self-expression and reviles anything that doesn’t fit the heterosexual, monogamous binary idea of a relationship. That infuriates me. It’s typical, commonplace, even, but it gets me every time.
Will this cost him the race? Unlikely. Most of his supporters don’t believe that Radel would have registered such names to begin with. When he finally came clean last week, he basically accused Mother Jones of mudslinging, not even pausing to grok the irony and nerve of such a statement: “Radel said Thursday afternoon that he owned a business that bought and sold thousands of domain names, and he was not aware of every name purchased. When he became aware of such names, he said, they were disposed of immediately and he worked to ensure no content was posted. He said the story is the work of a liberal publication that often attacks conservative Republican candidates.”
UPDATE: Radel assumed office as congressman on January 3, 2013 after taking Florida’s heavily Republican 19th district with 63 percent of the vote in November, 2012. He made news again in November, 2013, when he was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine.