Wired is reporting on the Ron Paul SPAM story that I noted here the other day. The SPAM has been “laundered through a botnet,” which is “a standard spammer practice,” and “a decidedly illegal one.” Gary Warner, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s director of research in computer forensics, says, “”This is clearly a criminal act in support of a campaign, which has been committed with or without their knowledge.”
Ron Paul spokesman Jesse Benton says the campaign has no knowledge of the scam. Warner himself says that he has no reason to believe that the Paul campaign had anything to do with these messages.
Gary Warner questions, “will we see more and more of this, or will this bring shame to the campaigns and will they make clear that this is not a form of acceptable behavior by their supporters?”
There’s been speculation, Wired reports, by “some participants in the online political world” about Ron Paul’s “technically sophisticated fan base of manipulating online tools and polls to boost the appearance of a wide base of support.”
But the UAB analysis is the first to document any internet shenanigans.
The finding is significant, because Paul’s online support — as gauged by blog mentions, friends on social-networking sites such as MySpace and popularity in online polls — has garnered him wide mainstream print and television coverage, despite his relatively poor performance in offline polling.
Last week “conservative blog Redstate banned new Paul supporters from posting on its site because of their “shilling” for the candidate in conversations that had nothing to do with politics,” and Wired reports that “other sites have disabled their online polls, because they suspected that they were being gamed by Ron Paul supporters.”
Ron Paul spokesman Jesse Benton, made it clear:
“This is the first I’ve heard about this situation.”
“If it is true, it could be done by a well-intentioned yet misguided supporter or someone with bad intentions trying to embarrass the campaign,” he wrote while ferrying his boss to tape an appearance on The Tonight Show. “Either way, this is independent work, and we have no connection.”
I think it was very clear from the first report on this, that no one suspected the SPAM came from inside Paul’s campaign. It’s very possible Ron Paul simply became the subject du jour of SPAM’rs.