“I figured that people misspell her name all the time. The intent here was not actually to drive anything meaningful; it was just comedy,” he said. “I guess I get a few emails a day from people saying, ‘Oh my god? Is this true?’ or ‘How could you say such a thing?’”
Records from domain sales company GoDaddy.com show that Michele2012.com, the site that redirects to Penthouse.com, is owned by Pete Lucas of Bridgewater, N.J.
In an email reply to Roll Call’s request for comment, Lucas wrote: “Have an urgent meeting with an attorney now. Are you interested in purchasing?”
News reports show that a man of the same name and hometown bought several campaign-related websites during the 2000 presidential contest in order to profit from selling them to candidates.
A spokeswoman for Penthouse did not return a request for comment.
While other candidates in the Republican field have cyber squatters too, Bachmann seems to be the only one who has drawn this form of cyber-protest.
Not all of the candidate’s fake sites are protests, however.
Bachmann2012.com appears to be an impartial message board where users can post articles and comment on them.
Others are even simpler. Brian Krassenstein, a Cape Coral, Fla.-based Web investor, bought MichelleBachmann.com in 2009.
“I just kind of saw it as an opportunity. Maybe if she ran for president, I could put a blog up or something,” he said.
He didn’t, but the roughly 60 clicks the basic site gets per day draw in advertising revenue, a feature that makes squatting attractive to investors.
For Quale, though, it’s not about the money. He said if Bachmann’s campaign wanted the site, he would sell it to them without a profit. And when his rights to the site expire next year, he may not re-register, especially if Bachmann wins the presidency.
“If she gets elected president, I don’t think I’d be re-registering,” he said. “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
Bachmann’s campaign did not return a request for comment.
Editor's Note: Since the publication of this article, Pete Lucas, the owner of Michele2012.com, has ceased redirecting the site to Penthouse.com. He said by email that he had been responsible for the site redirect, though. “What likely happened is that Ms. Bachman probably made some stupid comment about Penthouse at some point ... so I played a joke letting her know she is hypocritical,” he wrote.