The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, 7/16/13, 10:45 AM ET

Web entrepreneur hits big on political web domains

Internet entrepreneur Michael Deutsch, a self-proclaimed political junkie, joins Daily Rundown guest host Luke Russert to talk about how he buys up political...

‘Cybersquatting’ campaign sites earn political junkie access

Updated
By Karly Schledwitz

Jeb16.com is already a website, but Republicans shouldn’t get too excited at another Bush candidacy quite yet.

That’s because self- described political junkie and internet entrepreneur Michael Deutsch has bought the web domain—just in case.

Deutch has made political cybersquatting somewhat of a hobby, and in recent years has pre-emptively bought web domains linked to President George W. Bush, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Virginia gubernatorial Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, and New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, before they could buy them.

Deutsch joined The Daily Rundown’s Tuesday “Deep Dive” to share the stories of where this unusual interest has taken him.

Deutsch started purchasing political web names in the late 90s with “McCain2000.org” and “Liberman2004.com” before either candidate had announced their intentions to run.

Rather than trying to profit from the endeavor, Deutsch holds the websites as leverage to gain access to the politicians and their campaigns. This feeds his hunger for political gossip and news, earning him special access to conventions and the chance to follow a candidate on the trail.

“Purchasing these domains, often before the candidates themselves announce, and then contributing to campaigns opens a lot of doors,” Deutsch said.

The web savvy politico is non-partisan in his endeavor, wanting just to pull back the curtain of politics rather than supporting either party.

When the New York Post reported in 2004 that Dick Gephardt would be the Vice Presidential pick on the John Kerry presidential ticket, Deutsch thought his KerryGebhardt website would be big.

“You go from a hero to a bum overnight. I thought I had hit the grand jackpot that everybody tries to get, which is the presidential ticket, and then suddenly it didn’t happen,” Deutsch recalled.

He also purchases and sells some non-political sites—like RememberTheAlamo.com and DrinkMilk.com.—to pay for his hobby. For the most part, this method of self-financing works out, though one of his web purchases led to a law suit.

Organizing for Action once brought an arbitration against Deutsch for breaching their trademark after realizing that he had already purchased organizingforaction.com and organizingforaction.org. Deutsch won the suit unanimously, but it demonstrated just how much politicians and organizations value their domain names.

Deutsch sadly admits that his hobby has become harder lately as others try to follow in his footsteps.

“This field had become very popular by people who are trying to make a lot of money,” Deutsch explained.

So let this be a notice to all of you might-be candidates reading out there: secure your domain names now, or someone else might do it for you.

'Cybersquatting' campaign sites earn political junkie access

Updated