Infiltrator hijacks RNC floor pass, charges trip to College Republicans
Mike Connery thought he had found a golden ticket: a contest he could easily win that would pay his freight to the Republican National Convention. If all went right, he'd even gain a coveted floor pass for all four days of the RNC.
There was just one catch: Connery, a progressive activist, blogger and founder of www.futuremajority.com, is a fairly prominent figure in liberal politics. His name is all over the Internet, and a simple Google search reveals that he's neither wolf nor hawk.
But the Republicans vetted Connery with the same vigor that they had previously reserved for Sarah Palin.
On the College Republicans' dime, Connery's been here all week, researching and infiltrating. But it all started at the Netroots Nation conference, when the would-be mole and friends noticed an opportunity. The right-wing collegians were running a "Win a Trip to the Convention" contest using their Storm social networking website. The site is little-used, so College Republicans offered the top 40 people who recruited new members free lodging in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
That's the catch-22: the site has few users, so College Republicans wanted more. Since the site has few users, a small group could pretend to be new recruits and almost assure one of them a slot.
“We realized that we could game the system pretty easily,” says Connery, author of the book Youth To Power.
Using dozens of different e-mail addresses, Connery and friends voted up his account. About 30 different Democratic friends of his used their real e-mail addresses to sign up for the site. Sarah Burris, an activist and a pal of Connery's, registered five different email accounts on her own. That includes an account where the user name is "DemDonor."
You might think this would have tipped off the judges. Yet the lefty spies seem to have taken relatively few measures to actually conceal Connery's identity. He called himself “M. Joseph Connery” on the application, and considered going by “Joe” during the convention, but "he was scared he wouldn't answer to Joe," Burris remembers. Instead, he went by “Conner.”
There were sacrifices. He pretended not to know his friend Burriss throughout the convention.
But it was all worthwhile. Suddenly, he had a convention credential from the Maryland delegation and a free hotel room. He was in. Throw on a dark blazer with an “I'm voting McCain-Palin” pin, and he mingled with the natives. That's how Connery, 30, wound up on the floor at the RNC, schmoozing with dyed-in-the-wool Elephants.
He'll write an article about the experience that he hopes to publish in The Nation, and he'll post about the experience on his futuremajority.com blog.
What, you thought the FBI had the only moles in town?