Sunday, April 1, 2007

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

We independently established earlier that OHIOGOP.ORG was operated by SMARTech. However, there are claims that Ohio's official election sites for the mid-term 2006 elections were outsourced to SMARTech as well. The (very) liberal Web site ePluribus Media claims that:

The State of Ohio's real-time, streaming election results are first diverted through Chattanooga, TN, to a GOP-only web firm and the servers currently hosting georgewbush.com, as well as other key Republican web sites.

They claim that ELECTION.SOS.STATE.OH.US was routed to a SMARTech server. This is interesting because Ohio's then Secretary of State (the person who oversee's Ohio's elections) was a Republican named Ken Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell was running for Governor of Ohio.

Mr. Blackwell served under the first President Bush as undersecretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development (remember, we earlier saw another HUD agency running its Web site through SMARTech). President Bush (senior) later appointed Blackwell as ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Blackwell served in that post from 1992 to 1993.

Obviously, if the state's election information page was re-routed from a government server to a server located at SMARTech, then something's not exactly kosher.

Sadly, our source here is anything but objective. So we can't accept ePluribus' rant as independent information. We can, however, do some research on our own. Their claim is that Ohio hosted election information on IP address 64.203.98.137. A quick "whois" search confirms that SMARTech does own that IP address, as shown in Figure K.

FIGURE K

SMARTech does own the IP address. (click for larger image)

In fact, as we showed earlier, they appear to own 64.203.96.0 through 64.203.111.255. Owning a block of IP addresses isn't unusual for a firm that does Web hosting and provides other Internet services, so there's nothing troubling here. What is unusual is that SMARTech does appear have hosted at least some information from the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State, as shown in Figure L.

FIGURE L

SMARTech is hosting some official documents. (click for larger image)

We have no idependent verification of any of the primary assertions from ePluribus. It is, however, curious that official state election documents do appear on a server operated by a firm under contract to the RNC. It is also curious that the senior election official in Ohio was also running for Governor of Ohio while this went on. It is further somewhat curious that a finance oversight agency of HUD runs its Web site on SMARTech's servers and that Mr. Blackwell was previously undersecretary of HUD. Nothing of this, however, represents anything even close to a smoking gun.

Mr. Blackwell was defeated in the election.

Why SMARTech?

This brings us back to the email management issue that got us started. In addition to running Postfix, it's reasonable to assume that SMARTech runs Microsoft's Exchange server and other Microsoft technology. As Figure M shows, Averbeck is quoted by Microsoft as endorsing Microsoft's Small Business Server.