As Republican Mazi Pilip launched her congressional campaign against Democrat Tom Suozzi on Friday, two websites bearing her name redirected users to another campaign website — that of expelled Rep. George Santos.
Internet users searching for information on Pilip on MaziPilip.com and MaziMelesaPilip.com were instead redirected to Santos’ old campaign website for most of the day Friday.
A search on the website for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN showed the domains were acquired on Nov. 28 — days before Santos’ Dec. 1 expulsion — but the identity of the owner or owners is concealed by a limited liability corporation registered in Arizona that is frequently used to keep domain owners anonymous.
Pilip’s official campaign website is MaziforNY.com and was purchased on Thursday, according to an ICANN search.
Nassau GOP Spokesman Mike Deery in a phone interview accused Suozzi’s campaign of being behind the web mix-up, but provided no evidence.
“This is beneath the dignity of a congressional campaign, and the residents of the district deserve better,” Deery said.
Suozzi campaign spokeswoman Kim Devlin in an interview asserted: “Our campaign has nothing to do with it.”
Suozzi’s campaign website Suozziforcongress2024.com was registered on Oct. 3, according to ICANN.
Pilip, a Nassau county legislator, is competing against Suozzi in the Feb. 13 special election to fill the Third Congressional District seat once held by Santos before his ouster. He was accused by the House Ethics Committee of using his campaign operation to fund lavish personal expenses, including designer clothing and cosmetic treatments.
The practice of redirecting users to different websites is common in modern day politics — in 2016 internet trolls purchased the rights to Hillaryforpresident.com and posted articles critical of then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. During the 2016 Republican primary, trolls purchased JebBush.com and redirected users from the former Florida governor’s would-be website to Donald Trump’s campaign website.