NEW LONDON — On Sunday the New London Day posted a banner ad for Republican candidate Robert Boris that linked to a website containing “offensive and derogatory material,” according to Boris, instead of the campaign website that Boris had provided.
Ian Bond, campaign manager for Boris — the Republican candidate for state Representative in the 41st District — said that the Day claimed the error was unintentional and that the link was a placeholder until the correct link was provided.
“It would be virtually impossible for that to be unintentional given that we have confirmation that we provided the correct link, which we provided five days or six days prior to the run,” Bond told CT Examiner. “When Robert corresponded with the editor, the editor’s explanation was that it was a placeholder that was put in the system because we did not provide the click through link, which isn’t true – we have the emails and the confirmation that everything was set to go.”
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Boris is running against Democrat Aundré Bumgardner and unaffiliated candidate Jake Dunigan for the 41st District seat.
“[The Day] said it was a placeholder link that was something the advertising person googled and just put in as a placeholder – that’s not what that link is. That link is a very specific query in a census database. And you yourself can google Robert Boris and that link is nowhere close to being found,” Bond said.
Attorney Tim Herbst, who is representing Boris, claimed in a letter to Tim Cotter, executive editor of The Day, that the “material clearly designed to influence the outcome of an election.”
Herbst charged that “if the URL link was under the care, custody and control of the Day, this could not have happened from an outside source, nor could it have happened accidentally. The circumstances that give rise to this letter require a good faith internal investigation by the Day to determine if the uniform resource locator (“URL”) at issue was programmed by an agent/employee of the Day.”
Bond said that Boris paid $850 for a “homepage takeover, which runs a banner ad and several other dimensions of the same or similar ad for the duration of the day.”
He said that Boris requested a refund but The Day offered, “in compensation for their mistake,” to run the ad for about four days.” Bond said he wasn’t certain if it will run again on Sunday.
Readers brought the error to the attention of the Boris campaign last Sunday, said Bond who claimed that the Day was not responsive to phone calls. Bond said he tried to follow up with the advertising department and the editor and “no one would return our calls all day.”
“They just never returned our calls, so that was off-putting in and of itself. And then on Monday, I received like almost 10 calls, maybe seven or eight from the advertising point of contact, vehemently apologizing and saying it was a mistake and it wasn’t intentional, which obviously felt like an inordinate response to not returning our numerous calls, on Sunday to try to find out what was going on.”
Bond said that Boris wanted clarification and has requested an investigation through his attorney.
“The big takeaway is there’s not much animosity here. Clearly, there’s probably one digital person at The Day that did this intentionally. You know, we respect the Day immensely as an institution,” Bond said.
Bond, who described his background as digital marketing, and pointed out that Boris is the president of a cloud computing company, said it was clear that executives at the Day weren’t well versed in digital matters.
“And that’s a big reason we don’t have animosity going into this. It’s just necessary to preserve the content that can be easily wiped by whoever did it on the digital end,” Bond said.
Bond said it was part of Boris’ effort to have “transparency and accountability, which is something this area has lacked in terms of politics for a long time.”
In reply to a request for comment by CT Examiner, Cotter wrote in an email that he could not comment because Boris has hired an attorney.