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Who's Using Newt's Email List? Gingrich Supporters Get Email Pitch

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, April 18 2012

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has suffered many indignities and blows in his now long-shot quest for the Republican presidential nomination. He's even been attacked by a penguin.

Now, his name is being invoked by an identity-theft protection service with a checkered past.

On Tuesday, a message went out, purportedly from Newtgingrichforpresident.org, with the following header: "A special offer for Newt's supporters."

It was a pitch for the services of LifeLock, a firm with a shady past based in Tempe, Arizona that was fined $12 million in 2010 by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive business practices. The company has since said that it has upgraded its "identity theft protection" services, but many of the functions that it advertises, such as replacing "lost credit and debit cards," and fraud alerts, can be done by consumers themselves without any help.

CBS reported late last week that the Gingrich campaign had sold its campaign, donor and supporter list to a marketing brokerage called TMA Direct. Other clients include Fred Thompson, Rudolph Giuliani, Tim Pawlenty, the late Andrew Breitbart's media properties and Mike Huckabee, as well as Gingrich's American Solutions group.

The Gingrich campaign is in debt to the tune of $4.5 million. The candidate himself told reporters last week that he put the lists up for sale because his campaign needs the money.

But in this case, the advertising of a company with services of such dubious value is especially troubling because many of Gingrich's supporters are on the are on the older end of the spectrum and might not understand how to best protect their identities.

The Gingrich campaign has an extensive privacy policy page disclosing how and where it might use supporters' information, but as of Wednesday, it says nothing about the possibility of selling supporters' contact information to a brokerage.

Neither the Gingrich campaign nor TMA Direct could be reached for comment at the time of this blog posting.

As for "newtgingrichforpresident.org," Newt Gingrich has been Newt.org on the Internet for years. Nobody's hosting a website at the longer address.

The domain's ownership information is inaccessible, as its owners are using an identity-protecting proxy service.

This post has been updated.

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