The Norman Transcript

June 19, 2014

Democrats blame Internet hacker for running shoe sales pitch

Janelle Stecklein
CNHI News Service

OKLAHOMA CITY — Perhaps neon yellow Nike running shoes are a tongue-in-cheek allusion to Democratic candidates “running” for office and trying to get people to the polls.

Because when many visitors checked the state Democratic Party’s website Thursday, they were promised “Absolute flexibility for a natural run” and told to “Just Do It.”

The problem: Those messages came from Nike, not Democrats.

As early voting opened for state primaries, the Democratic Party was trying to clean up a web glitch that rerouted many would-be visitors to okdemocrats.org instead to nikeshoeshop.com. Instead of learning about the party platform, voting or candidates, web visitors were given the opportunity to purchase running shoes.

The problem affected web traffic from the search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo. It apparently did not affect direct traffic to the website or visitors following links elsewhere on the Internet, including Facebook.

Trav Robertson, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said the Nike flip was the handiwork of a hacker and was discovered by party officials Wednesday afternoon. They hoped to have it fixed by Thursday night.

Robertson said the website experiences a spike in traffic this time of year. And while he said he’s not a “conspiracy theorist,” Robertson said it is interesting that the timing coincided with early voting, which continues through Saturday across the state.

“It’s bad timing,” he said. “I don’t know who hacked it. We are in the process of getting it fixed.”

The state Republican Party’s site also experienced problems several months ago, officials said.