Sunday, April 1, 2007

The White House email controversy: who runs GWB43.COM?

FIGURE I

The servers appear to be in downtown Chattanooga. (click for larger image)

But what else runs on the SMARTech servers? Netcraft can help here as well. We did a lookup on the netblock 64.203.96.0-64.203.111.255, which appear to be the IP addresses owned by SMARTech. Figure J shows all three pages returned by the Netcraft query.

FIGURE J

SMARTech appears to mostly run Microsoft IIS and Apache servers. (click for larger image)

SMARTech appears to mostly run Microsoft IIS and Apache servers. Digging through the sites operated by SMARTech, Table B shows more RNC-related customers, some local Chattanooga companies, and, strangely, at least one government Web site.

Table B: Web sites that can be located in SMARTech's IP address block
DomainDescription
JOHNMCCAIN.COMJohn McCain, of course, is a leading contender in the 2007 Presidential race. He's had the domain operating since 1998.
RPTF.COMThis is the National Republican Senatorial Committee
OFHEO.GOVThis is the Web site for the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, part of Housing and Urban Development. According to Wikipedia, "It is charged with ensuring the capital adequacy and financial safety and soundness of two government sponsored enterprises -- the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac)."

So, what else can we find out about SMARTech and Jeff Averbeck?

According to CampaignMoney.com, Averbeck donated a total of $5,320 to the RNC between 2000 and 2006. We also know that, according to Federal Election Commission records, the RNC purchased Web services from SMARTech:

  • $15,213.06 on 12/17/2003
  • $15,213.06 on 12/18/2003
  • $819.38 on 12/23/2003

The RNC also purchased Web services from Airnet Group, Inc. (which is the name of the company that owns SMARTech):

  • $14,884.31 on 10/02/2003
  • $1,365.63 on 11/06/2003

In total, it looks like the RNC spent $47,495.44 back in 2003 with Averbeck's company to set up and manage Web sites. On the surface, that may look like a lot of money but, as someone who's managed Web sites and bought high-speed Internet feeds, I can assure you that's actually a pretty reasonable price to run such high-profile Web sites.

It should be noted that we offered Mr. Averbeck the opportunity to comment on this article and answer interview questions. In fact, we promised him we'd ask him questions via email and publish his written answers, in full and completely unedited. Although we left Mr. Averbeck a detailed message with this promise in his personal voice mailbox, the call was never returned -- the offer still stands should he read this and wish to comment.

Strange assertions about Ohio election results

Once you start turning over rocks, you'll never know what you might discover. Without a doubt, tracing electronic records from any political party is going to turn over a lot of controversial claims. The weirdest relates to the Ohio elections and SMARTech.