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Lieberman blames Rove-like tactics for Web site disruption

Challenger Lamont calls charge 'scurrilous,' denies involvement

By Robert Yoon
CNN Washington Bureau

story.web.joe2006.jpg
Sen. Joe Lieberman's campaign Web site has been down since Monday, the eve of the primary election.

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Joe Lieberman
Democratic Party
Connecticut
Senate

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Officials with U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman's re-election campaign blamed "dirty politics" and "Rovian tactics" for what they said was an online attack on their Web site as Connecticut voters headed to the polls Tuesday.

The former Democratic vice presidential candidate is in a tight race for his party's nomination for a fourth term to the Senate.

"Rovian" is a reference to White House aide and presidential political adviser Karl Rove, whom Democrats frequently have accused of unethical campaign tactics.

The Web site, http://www.joe2006.comexternal link, has been unavailable since Monday afternoon. Lieberman campaign manager Sean Smith suggested that the campaign of the senator's primary opponent, Ned Lamont, or his supporters were responsible for the disruption.

"This type of dirty politics has been a staple of the Lamont campaign from the beginning, from the nonstop personal attacks to the intimidation tactics and offensive displays to these coordinated efforts to disable our Web site," said Smith in a statement e-mailed to reporters Monday evening.

"There is no place for these Rovian tactics in Democratic politics, and we demand that our opponent call off his supporters and their online attack dogs."

Tuesday afternoon, the Lieberman campaign formally complained to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, asking him to investigate attacks on the site.

In its letter to Blumenthal, the campaign, citing joe2006.com's Web-hosting company, said the site had been brought down due to traffic "neither natural nor done by normal site visitor volume."

When asked by CNN whether the service outage was due to an unpaid bill, Sean Smith, Lieberman's campaign manager, said "Are you kidding?"

The Lamont campaign has denied any involvement.

When asked by reporters at a campaign stop Tuesday if he or his campaign was responsible for the incident, Lamont said, "No, it's just another scurrilous charge."

Liz Dupont-Diehl, a Lamont spokeswoman, told CNN that the campaign "denounced and condemned" the action, and she denied any involvement by Lamont or members of his campaign. She added that the Lamont campaign did not know who was behind the incident.

The site became unavailable at some point Monday afternoon and now displays the message: "This account is under construction. Please check back soon. It will be available shortly. Thank you."

Various messages have appeared since Monday night in place of the Lieberman Web site, including "There is no Web site configured at this address" and "This account has been suspended. Please contact the billing/support department as soon as possible."

A CNN researcher briefly accessed the original Lieberman Web site late Monday.

The Lieberman campaign said Tuesday in a statement: "... The the suspension of displaying the Web site www.joe2006.com was not due to to an overdue account. Friends of Joe Lieberman is completely paid in full. The screen that showed yesterday is a default image from the server. In order to isolate where the denial of service attack was coming into the site, we disabled it as rapidly as possible. Once we were able to isolate all the site files for study, we were able to add an appropriate one-page maintenance message."

CNN's Jacki Schechner contributed to this report.

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