What Mitt Romney Can Teach James O'Keefe About Ratf**king

Poor James O'Keefe. The pimp-posing, NPR-stinging provocateur was just caught with his pants down. If he's going to play in the big leagues of campaign dirty trickery, he should have learned something from Mitt Romney's failed 2008 campaign.

Allegedly, O'Keefe made calls to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and other left-leaning, think tanks from a "hedge fund" with ties to an Ohio teacher's union called "Ohio Education Association" representing 130,000 teachers. Only one problem: the email domain used by the caller - "ohioedassoc.org" - was registered to Shane Cory, one of James' underlings at his own new think tank, Project Veritas. A simple "whois" search revealed Cory as the registrant's name, including his address and phone number in Fredericksburg, VA (it has since been changed).

But if O'Keefe and Cory had spent as much time learning the lessons of history as they had dressing up as pimps and coming up with bizarre links between hedge funds and teachers' unions, they would have remembered that Mitt Romney got in trouble for the exact same slip up in 2008.

You may remember that in September, 2007, the Romney campaign got caught hosting an anti-Fred Thompson website called PhoneyFred.org. The site had barely been up for a day before simple "whois" domain searching revealed that the site was hosted by a Utah company called Bluehost.com, which in turn had fairly transparent connections to TTS Strategies. One of the T's and the S in "TTS" were Warren Tompkins - a Romney political consultant - and Terry Sullivan - Romney's South Carolina state director. Caught red-handed, the site came down about as quickly as Thompson's campaign was already imploding. It didn't exactly help Romney in the long term, either.

If O'Keefe is serious about his "ratfucking" efforts (as Nixon's Don Segretti called it), he'll do well to remember that it doesn't take much more effort to register a domain name anonymously. During the '08 campaign, my writing partner, Eitan Gorlin, and I kept our "abrad2345" satirical Giuliani campaign, and our subsequent Martin Eisenstadt fake McCain adviser/pundit character completely anonymous through that simple process. And we were two filmmakers in a garage just having fun. It was only when we outed ourselves to the New York Times that anyone ever figured out who was behind our good-natured mischief.

So my advice to O'Keefe? Get yourself some Koch money and hire a real IT guy next time. That, or go back to dressing like a pimp.