Democratic Web Consultant Accuses The RNC Of Stealing His Code

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Matt Ortega (Photo: Facebook)

Matt Ortega, a former Democratic National Committee employee and the deputy director for digital at the D.C. Democratic consulting firm “{new} partners,” is accusing the Republican National Committee of stealing his CSS code for a website attacking President Barack Obama. The RNC’s website, “Obama’s New Idea’s To Fix The Economy,” was launched yesterday following the president’s campaign framing speech. It features a blank page with a blinking cursor to imply the president has no ideas to improve the country’s economic situation. Mr. Ortega claims the code used to make “Obama’s New Idea’s To Fix The Economy” was stolen from a site he made last September called “Exciting Things About Tim Pawlenty” that also featured a blank slate with a blinking cursor that Mr. Ortega says was an effort to lampoon the erstwhile presidential candidate “for being boring.”

“When the RNC launched this website today, a friend of mine IM’ed it to me and it was very clear the idea was the same idea I had done,” Mr. Ortega told The Politicker yesterday evening. I started examining their code just to look at it, because digital nerds like me, we tend to do that sort of thing. And I was like, wait a minute, this is my code. I did this from scratch by hand.”

Mr. Ortega responded by blasting the RNC on Twitter and by launching a site of his own, RNCStoleMyWebsite.com, this morning. His “RNC Stole My Website” page features side by side comparisons of the code from “Exciting Things About Tim Pawlenty” and “Obama’s New Idea’s To Fix The Economy.”

“I was like, this is basically my handiwork and they’re attacking the president, who I personally support, so in the day and age of Twitter, I figure I might as well call them out on it and publicly shame them,” said Mr. Ortega.

According to Mr. Ortega, the similarities between the sites include the dimensions of the blinking cursors, the order of meta tags for Facebook, the size of the margin spacing and the name of the div classes.

“It wasn’t like one or two things, it was like everything is the exact same,” Mr. Ortega said. “The biggest irony for me was that their site attacks the president for having ‘no new ideas’ and they’re literally using someone else’s idea. I mean, to me, that was just like the cherry on top.”

Mr. Ortega is taking the RNC to task for the alleged code theft with his “RNC Stole My Website” page and a continuing barrage of Tweets, but he said he doesn’t plan on pursuing legal action.

“A friend of mine who’s a lawyer had a suggestion I should do a C&D and even offered to do it and I was like, if you want to, go for it. But, I mean, I’m not expecting to get actual financial restitution or anything like that,” said Mr. Ortega. “Really, at this point all I want is them to give me an attribution on the site itself, which I doubt they would ever do, or admit that they actually stole it…And then, C, just shame them.”

We reached out to RNC Deputy Communications Director Tim Miller via email to ask about Mr. Ortega’s allegations. He didn’t answer our question about whether the code was taken from Mr. Ortega, but he provided a statement saying the spat shows Democrats have no way of defending the president’s economic policies.

“The only defense any Democrats have mustered to the fact that the President did not offer a single new idea to fix the economy has been a complaint about ‘CSS code,’” Mr. Miller wrote. “That shows you how far afield they are of the concerns facing real Americans who are struggling in the Obama economy.”