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$100,000 for a website domain name? Rand Paul pays up

Rand Paul pays $100,000 for his personal domain name

A tip for people thinking of running for president: Get the rights to your name on the Internet early; failure to do so just cost Sen. Rand Paul $100,000.

Paul, the Republican from Kentucky who is vying for his party's presidential nomination, shelled out the sum earlier this spring, paying a third-party firm to purchase randpaul.com.

The purchase, first reported by the National Journal, is outlined in the Federal Election Commission disclosure report filed by Paul's Senate reelection campaign. In late March, ahead of the formal announcement that he was running for the nomination, Paul's campaign paid the money to Escrow.com, a company based in Rancho Santa Margarita that processes online transactions between buyers and sellers of domain names. 

A spokesman for the Paul campaign declined to comment about the purchase and the exact name of the seller is unknown. At one point, the site had been run by fans of Paul's, who used it to promote him, but whether they still owned it when the sale took place is unknown.

With campaigns usually cash-strapped at early points in the race, a $100,000 payment for a domain name raised some eyebrows. But Paul's campaign apparently thought the price was worth paying.

Why spend that much? Two of Paul's rivals in the Republican race, Carly Fiorina and Sen. Ted Cruz, could testify to the embarassment that so-called "cyber-squatters" can cause. 

Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard, failed to register carlyfiorina.org before someone else got it. The site now prominently displays 30,000 frowning faces, highlighting the number of people she laid off while running the computer firm.

Fiorina's record of laying people off at Hewlett Packard provided fodder for her opponents when she unsuccessfully ran for Senate from California in 2010 against Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Cruz was also targeted by cyber squatters, who owned tedcruz.com. That site now taunts him with the message "SUPPORT PRESIDENT OBAMA. IMMIGRATION REFORM NOW!"

Other candidates have done better on the domain-name front. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who announced his candidacy last month, owns his own name. So does Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.

But Jeb Bush and Chris Christie both have potential problems with domain squatters. 

The Christie domain is owned by a man who shares the New Jersey governor's name while jebbushforpresident.com, which mocks the former Florida governor, is owned by a gay couple from Oregon.  

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com

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