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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 9 - 15, 2002


Williams’ web site ‘political strategy’ now just a prank?

Express Staff Writer

Since the story went nationwide via The Associated Press and was repeated on CNN Headline News, the vice chairman of the Idaho Republican Party seems to have revised his original motive for creating an unauthorized Internet web site in the name of a Democratic state senator.

Originally, Latham Williams said using the name of Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, for a web site involved "political strategy" he would not discuss.

Now, however, Williams suggests his tactic might’ve been a light-hearted prank worth a "good laugh" between he and Stennett.

Williams, also a Sun Valley city councilman, tried to explain the web site in letters to the Mountain Express, Wood River Journal and Twin Falls Times-News, letters that taunt Stennett and belittle his political competence.

But Williams declined to respond to several e-mails from the Express seeking an interview to ask more questions. When a reporter reached him by phone, Williams said curtly, "I will not be interviewed on that," and abruptly ended the call.

After denying in the letters that he planned to use the web site "to misrepresent Clint, or post pictures of him or solicit money from his donors," Williams wrote, "I registered clintstennett.com to make one simple point: Clint Stennett had missed the boat.

"He should have registered the site years ago before someone else did. He’s the Idaho Senate Minority Leader, he represents a part of Idaho with one of the highest per-capita investments in technology infrastructure. He’s the owner of a local TV station and he doesn’t register his own name?"

Added Williams: "The truth is, Clint’s failing to register the sites and calling the newspaper to complain that someone beat him to it says a lot about him. I wish he’d called me. We would have had a good laugh and I might have given it (the web site) to him."

For his part, Sen. Stennett said Williams is "engaging in Chicago style politics that Blaine County doesn’t deserve." He also noted that "probably half of the state legislators don’t have web sites of their own."

Also, a close political ally of Williams, Ketchum City Councilman Maurice Charlat, whom Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne credits along with Williams of making Blaine County a "five star Republican County," does not have a web site registered in his name.

Charlat, who was out of town when Williams’ web site was first disclosed, said he talked with Williams but believes there’s nothing more to be said about the issue.

The web site created and registered by Williams is www.clintstennett.com and contains a covering message that the site is "under construction." This tactic generally is known as "cybersquatting"—using the name of a company or an individual without permission—and has led to federal laws to prosecute "cybersquatters" for "bad faith" unauthorized use of names.

Williams has his own web site, registered by Greenfield Properties, of Ketchum, a real estate firm formed by his wife Suzanne in 1994.

Administrative and technical contact for Williams’ web site is Tramark Networking, 126 S. Main St., Hailey, whose president, Tracy Lotz, wrote a spirited defense of Williams in a letter to the editor of the Express defending Williams’ unauthorized use of Stennett’s name and suggesting the Express story involved "trivial" matters.

Coincidentally, in addition to maintaining Williams’ web site, Lotz also donated $1,000 of in-kind services to Stennett’s opponent, Gooding County Commissioner Tom Faulkner, of Bliss, according to a campaign disclosure report Faulkner faxed June 23 to the Idaho secretary of state. Faulkner said the service provided by Lotz was to help create a web site, tomfaulknerforsenate.com.

In his letters to newspapers, Williams accused Stennett of being an ineffective state senator.

He wrote that "for years, he’s been trying to get parts of the Big Wood River protected. None of his bills have passed. There’s still no protection."

Among questions an Express reporter wanted to ask Williams was why he blames a senator in the Idaho Legislature’s Democratic minority for failing to enact legislation that lawmakers in the Republican majority haven’t passed.



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