Company buys back name


by By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 12:24 PM

AUSTIN - After losing a valuable piece of online real estate to enterprising cyber-squatters, the Bush presidential library has replanted its flag into that e-territory.

But the squatters - a North Carolina Web development company called Illuminati Karate - had the last laugh, making a huge profit off an embarrassing oversight by the GOP-connected company charged with overseeing the Web site for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which will be built in Dallas.

Illuminati Karate paid less than $10 for the www.George domain name - and sold it back for $35,000 to the library's contracted Web developers, Yuma Solutions, who had accidentally let it expire. Illuminati Karate recognized what the library obviously knew as well - that anything else, like www.GWBPresidentialLibrary .com, would have been cumbersome and less than ideal.

"It worked out very well," said George Huger, lead Web developer for Illuminati Karate in Raleigh, N.C.

Mark Mills, owner of Yuma Solutions, could not be reached for comment.

The Tallahassee, Fla.-based Yuma Solutions has a history with the Bush family, hosting Web sites for Mr. Bush's 2000 campaign and for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's 1998 and 2002 campaigns. The company also sold $1.25 million in computer equipment, support and Web services to John McCain's presidential campaign this year.

Records indicate that in March 2007, the George W. Bush Library Foundation, using Yuma Solutions as its contractor, bought the domain name from a private citizen for $3,000. Officials apparently overlooked the fact that the registration was set to expire within a few months.

Mr. Huger was trolling through a public list of names that were about to expire and saw the potential in the library name. He grabbed it.

Months later, in March 2008, Mr. Huger said he'd gotten some offers on it, but he declined to detail what they were or who was trying to buy it.

After TheDallas Morning News reported that the library had lost the domain, Mr. Mills contacted Illuminati Karate and asked to buy it back, Mr. Huger said.

At the time, a spokesman for the library foundation said officials were unaware that the name had been lost until a reporter contacted them about it.

"When the article came out, I think they wanted it back pretty badly," said Mr. Huger this week.

Yuma finally reached a deal to buy the Web address back for $35,000, which the company, not the library foundation, apparently paid, Mr. Huger said.

Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Library Foundation, said Tuesday that he didn't know about the Web site being lost and recovered. But, he said, he would know if the library had been stuck with a surprise $35,000 expenditure.

The site changed hands on April 17 and won't expire until 2013.