By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The price of free speech is $14.95

It costs just $14.95 to register an Internet domain name through I’ll get back to that. But keep that in mind as you make your way through this tangled tale of alleged campaign chicanery and legal threats.

On Thursday morning, the Republican-oriented Web site posted an article claiming that the independent gubernatorial campaign of convenience-store magnate Christy Mihos may have violated campaign-finance regulations. HubPolitics, published by brothers Matt and Aaron Margolis, had information obtained through a “whois” search that the domain name had been registered not by the Mihos campaign but rather by Mihos’ business, Christy’s of Cape Cod, based in Yarmouthport. The Margolises further presented evidence that the Mihos campaign had not reported this as an “in-kind contribution” to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Finally, the brothers wrote, if you actually went to, you would find that the content “mirrored” what you’d find on the official campaign site,

Late yesterday afternoon, HubPolitics posted a follow-up, charging that the Mihos campaign was trying to shut down the Margolises’ site, claiming their information was false and libelous. According to the brothers, the threat came from Mihos’ campaign manager, Peter Pendergast, who also claimed that the Margolises’ post violated their Internet service provider’s “acceptable use policy.” The Margolises say that their Web host has told them to remove the post in order to be “cautious.” (For some background on Pendergast, click here.)

In case HubPolitics suddenly disappears, Cape Cod Today impresario Walter Brooks, who tipped me off to this, has posted pretty much everything here. Nobody’s going to mess with Walter.

Now, back to our story. If you do a “whois” search of today on, which is where the name was registered, you’ll see that the registrant is listed as “Personal” — not “Christy’s of Cape Cod LLC,” as the Margolises claimed. But you’ll also see that the registration information was “last updated” on Thursday — conceivably right after the Margolises’ post went up. It also turns out that “Personal” has precisely the same address that the Margolises reported had been listed for Christy’s of Cape Cod: 58 Arrowhead Drive of Yarmouthport. The administrative contact, Kenneth Camille, allegedly told HubPolitics that he, not Christy’s of Cape Cod, is the proud owner of (By the way, is properly registered to the Mihos Election Committee, and there has been no change to that record since Feb. 1.)

Cruise on over to this morning, and you’ll see that it does not take you to, suggesting — assuming the Margolises have their facts straight — that there was some quick footwork performed in order to sever the connection between the two sites.

Now, back to my first observation. What does this all mean? The Margolises claim that was “mirroring” the official site, and, since it appeared to have been bought and paid for by Mihos’ business rather than by his campaign, it amounted to an unreported in-kind contribution.

But I seriously doubt that anyone bothered to set up as a mirror. Rather, it almost certainly was set up to forward visitors to the official site, something that requires virtually no server capacity. Thus it strikes me as extremely unlikely that anyone paid more than $14.95 for anything associated with I’m sorry, but that casts a considerable element of ridiculousness to this whole thing — the alleged violation, the alleged threats, the Margolises’ solemn pledge to “continue to publish articles of an investigatory nature as merited.”

As best as I can figure out, HubPolitics caught the Mihos campaign in what was, at worst, a hypertechnical violation of campaign-finance regulations valued at $14.95 — and that the Mihos campaign grossly overreacted.

Still, based on the Margolises’ account, it appears that the Mihos campaign is now threatening HubPolitics over a story that, though silly, appears to be true. Is this how Mihos wishes to conduct his long-shot campaign for governor? He’s got a Web site. He’s got access to the media. Let him respond in public rather than going after a couple of bloggers.

Update: Adam Gaffin and Jay Fitzgerald beat me to the punch on this. For some reason, their posts didn’t pop up when I went to Google Blogsearch this morning.

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  1. Anonymous

    The WHOIS lookup was indeed changed. Here is a link to a PDF posted by Hub Politics of the original WHOIS lookup prior to the alteration:

  2. Anonymous

    Dan, I don’t get this. Cape Wind is running ads on sympathetic blogs who support their project. These are blogs that directly support Deval’s pro-wind position.Cape Cod Today is passing this soft dollar money through to the state-wind blogs.None of this is being reported. And ,you guys are worried about $14.95.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 5:14: Did you read what I wrote? I’m not worried about $14.95. I’m worried about a couple of bloggers being threatened by a wealthy gubernatorial candidate.

  4. Anonymous

    Thanks for sorting this out dan. Nice to see that small-time pissing matches of incalculable insignificance are getting the churn they deserve.

  5. Anonymous

    Dan, Mihos is on Cape Wind’s hit list. Hub Politics receives “contributions” from Gordon as ad buys from Cape Cod Today.Walter knows Mihos. He knew he’d loose his cool over $14.95. It worked. Mihos losts his cool and any chance to present himself as a reasonable candidate off-Cape.Reilly is next. Watch. You are being used by someone you know and respect.

  6. Anonymous

    Read this – the last few comments.

  7. Lisa

    It’s a damn good reason to own your own server. It’s not that expensive — I share one with some friends at $70 a month and we put all our sites on it. Since we just buy raw bandwith from a telco operator and own our own box, there’s not much anyone can do to us.

  8. Lisa

    (That above isn’t too clear. We bought our own server, which cost more than $70 — a friend got it from a dot-com going out of business sale, so who knows, maybe it was less than $70). What costs $70/mo is the privilege of putting it in a “co-lo” (colocation) center’s rack. Their racks in turn are connected to massive telco pipes. Our $70 pays for electricity, bandwith, and some guy to sit around and play World of Warcraft and generally see that no ninjas break in and steal any servers).

  9. Ernie Boch III

    Dan, I don’t think you have to worry. The mere fact that Mihos’ Campaign turned this into an issue shows their incompetence and small view of reality. The response is consistent with my perception of Mihos. A spoiled, obtuse minded, rich brat with an unreal perception of himself and the world around him.

  10. Jenna

    Yeah, Ernie! Give ’em hell!We don’ want no spoiled,rich brats around here.

  11. Ernie Boch III

    Back At Ya Jenna,you have to add the ‘unreal perception of self and world’ to finish off this equation.It’s like a BLT sandwich. You need all the ingredients to make it work, or in this case to make him the ignorant narcissist he is.

  12. Peter Porcupine

    Mr. Kennedy – Now you’ve gone and made BugOnymous of 7:05 angry – and after he braggead about how he was turning over his loony money laundering theory to you and all! You were supposed to get our next Pulitzer out of this!Yes, Jim Gordon is laundering money at the rate of $65 per month on blogs – considering the $4 million aleady sunk into Cape Wind, why he should break even in just a gazillion years!

  13. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but Hub Politics got what they deserved. By being too lazy to do any actual legwork, i.e. calling the name listed as the contact and clearing this up, they chose to spin what is apparently a completely false tale. While I wouldn’t have been as heavy handed as the Mihos folks, the post on Hub Politics represents the worst of blogging: a lame attempt at “gotcha” journalism. Hub Politics shouldn’t cry when their own laziness gets them caught publishing something that isn’t true amd the Mihos campaign has every right to ask that the inaccurate post be removed.

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