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Tretheway claims police officers’ union stole his online identity

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City Councilman Ray Tretheway has claimed that opponents of his re-election campaign have stolen his online identity.

In a May 21 letter addressed to several local agencies, including the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, Tretheway alleged that the Sacramento Police Officers Association illegally registered the website domain name raytretheway.com.

The police officers’ union acknowledged that it has registered raytretheway.com but said it has not violated any laws.

Campaign statements show that SPOA provides financial support to Angelique Ashby, one of Tretheway’s competitors in the District 1 City Council race. 

“It’s identity theft, clear and simple,” Tretheway said in an interview Thursday. “Identity theft of 2010. And I read a quote from another media — print media — that they intended to use (the domain name) to mislead voters. That doubles my anxiety.”

Tretheway alleges in his letter that Ashby supporter and campaign contributor Keith Sharward initially registered the domain name last August. SPOA became the new administrator of the domain name between April 19 and May 20, Tretheway claims.

He alleges that the registration of the domain name by Sharward and SPOA is illegal under a state law on cyber piracy. The law says that is it “unlawful for a person, with a bad faith intent to register, traffic in, or use a domain name, that is identical or confusingly similar to the personal name of another living person or deceased personality, without regard to the goods or services of the parties.” 

Tretheway said he aimed to register the domain name last year, but found it was registered to Sharward. The councilman said Sharward was "new to politics," and he didn’t want to fight with him.

But Tretheway said he views SPOA differently. When he recently became aware that the domain name was in the hands of the SPOA, it was like an "amber alert" went off, he said.

“It is my name, and I would like it back,” Tretheway wrote in the letter.

In addition to the District Attorney’s office, Tretheway sent the letter to Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel, City Attorney Eileen Teichert and the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.

“We have received the letter,” Sacramento Police Department spokesman Norm Leong wrote in an e-mail Thursday. “We are reviewing it at this time. Thus far it appears the sections referenced from the business and professions code are civil and not criminal but we are conferring with the city attorney’s office on the matter.”

Teichert was not available Thursday afternoon.

Mark Tyndale, vice president of SPOA, strongly disagreed with Tretheway’s statements.

“On the issue of the domain name, I did contact our attorney when we did it,” Tyndale said. “Our attorney assures us there is nothing illegal about it, as long as we’re not using it as a means to divide (people)," he said.

"We don’t feel like it’s anything illegal at all," he added. "We just think it’s a political tactic."

Tyndale alleged that it is inappropriate for Tretheway to send his letter to the city attorney. “And I’m also concerned that he’s using the city attorney to clarify his campaign legal issues, which I think there’s kind of a conflict there,” Tyndale said.

Ashby said she had no knowledge about the website until Tretheway publicized his letter last week. “I didn’t find out about it until I heard about it from the media,” she said in a Thursday interview. “I don’t think we need it. I don’t think it’s necessary.”

She and Tretheway have opposing views of Sharward’s role in her campaign. In his letter, Tretheway said that campaign documents show that Sharward has been paid by her campaign. But Ashby said Sharward received a reimbursement, "not payment for services rendered."

At this point, SPOA has not done anything with the domain name. The website www.raytretheway.com is a blank page.

Read Tretheway’s letter here. 

Photo of Tretheway and council members by Anthony Bento.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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