A popular parody website that pretends to promote former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign has been linked to a Republican political consultant — despite implying that it was not linked to partisan politics by claiming that "it is not paid for by any candidate, committee, organization, or PAC."
The creator of the website joebiden.info is Patrick Mauldin, who with his brother Ryan runs a Republican political consultancy firm called Vici Media Group, according to The New York Times. Mauldin said he paid for the website with his own money but does not deny creating it in order to damage Biden's presidential campaign. The Times reports Mauldin saying he created the website to help Democrats "face facts" and insisted that he created it anonymously because "people tend to dismiss things that they don’t like, especially if it comes from the opposite side."
The Times also identified how Mauldin, despite insisting that the website was his own idea, nevertheless represents a troubling development in terms of how President Donald Trump may run his upcoming campaign.
Mr. Mauldin, who has not been previously identified as the creator of the website, said he had built and paid for it on his own, and not for the Trump campaign. But the campaign knows about the websites, raising the prospect that the president’s re-election effort condoned what is, in essence, a disinformation operation run by one of its own.
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, did not directly address that issue, though he said it was “great that talented supporters of President Trump use their time to help his re-election.”
“We appreciate their efforts in their own time with parodies like this that help the cause,” he added.
T. J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Biden's campaign, responded to the news about the website by telling the Times, "Imagine our surprise that a site full of obvious disinformation is the handiwork of an operative tied to the Trump campaign."
The website, which first started garnering public attention last month, opens by saying, "Uncle Joe is back and ready to take a hands-on approach to America’s problems! Joe Biden has a good feel for the American people and knows exactly what they really want deep down. He’s happy to open up and reveal himself to voters and will give a pounding to anybody who gets in his way!" It includes pictures of Biden touching women in ways that seem to make them uncomfortable and highlighting some of his past controversial stances on issues like school busing, abortion, the Iraq War and increasing prison sentences. It also includes Biden's infamous quote about President Barack Obama back when he was running for president during the 2008 election cycle, when he said that "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
Biden is apparently not the only 2020 presidential candidate to be a target of Mauldin's websites. He also has a site called "Millionaire Bernie" that mocks Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., "Kamala Harris for Arresting People," which focuses on the prosecutorial record of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and "Elizabeth Warren for Chief," which ridicules Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for claiming to have Native American ancestry.