Web controversy continues

Sites purchased after Birch announced sheriff candidacy

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— Accusations that Routt County sheriff candidate Dwight Murphy bought several Web site domain names incorporating fellow GOP candidate Ray Birch's name may be difficult to prove.

Using Web hosts such as Domain Direct (www.domaindirect.com) and WhoIs (www.whois.com), users can enter a Web site address and determine to whom the site is registered. Contact information for the site owner and its creation date also are available.

Domaindirect.com indicates that www.raybirch.com is registered to a man named Ray Birch from Queensland, Australia. That particular domain name was purchased July 20, 2000.

The domain names for www.birchforsheriff.com, www.raybirchforsheriff.com, www.birch4sheriff.com and www.raybirch4sheriff.com are registered to www.contactprivacy.com, which does not reveal the identities of site owners.

Each of the four domains was purchased Jan. 11, five days after Ray Birch announced his candidacy for Routt County sheriff.

Attempts by the Steamboat Pilot & Today to contact the owner of the domain names through www.contactprivacy.com were unsuccessful Thursday. A message on the contactprivacy.com Web site states that "it is the decision of the contact whether to respond to your request."

Murphy's Web site, www.dwightmurphyforsheriff.com, is registered in his name and lists his contact information. His Web site was created Dec. 7, 2005.

Murphyforsheriff.com is registered to Theodore Berg of Tiger technologies, LLC, in Berkeley, Calif.

Birch's Web site, www.officialraybirchforsheriff.com, is registered by Domains By Proxy through GoDaddy.com. Birch's Web site was created Jan. 22.

The controversy about the Web sites began two months ago, when Birch said he tried to create his campaign Web site but was prevented from using certain domain names because they already were registered. Birch said every domain name he tried redirected him to Murphy's Web site.

After a brief confrontation at a Routt County Republican luncheon in February, Birch said Murphy asked him whether he "wanted to buy them back." Murphy denies purchasing the "Birch for sheriff" domain names. He also denies offering to sell them to Birch.

Routt County Republican chairwoman Jennifer Schubert-Akin said Wednesday that she was aware of the allegations and would look into them.

Birch, a sergeant with the Routt County Sheriff's Office, and Murphy, a Steamboat Springs police officer, will face each other in August's Republican primary. The winner of the primary automatically will appear on the November ballot. Birch, Murphy and Democrat Gary Wall are seeking to replace Sheriff John Warner, who is not seeking re-election.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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