PhoneyFred.org and other Romney astroturf

Yesterday, we learned that an anonymous attack website was linked to Mitt Romney’s South Carolina’s consultants.

The Romney campaign has thrown one of their consultants under the bus for it:

Sources are telling FITSNews that Mitt Romney’s South Carolina campaign organization has fired consultant Wesley Donehue in an effort to make him the scapegoat for yesterday’s PR disaster.

FITSNews continues with:

Romney’s spokesman also says Donehue is “not an employee of ours,” yet Donehue’s “On The Mark” direct mail firm received $81,225.02 from the Romney campaign during the second quarter of 2007, according to Federal Election Commission filings

So he’s not staff of the campaign. But his firm is. And, according to Palmetto Scoop, another SC blog:

Donehue runs the daily operations of their political consulting firm, Tompkins, Thompson and Sullivan, including direct mail efforts and a number of Web-based ventures.

He’s in charge of web-based ventures… Well, the Scoop has some more details:

Under the Power Lines is the “NetRoots base” for their clients, which includes Romney, and is led by Donehue and associate Tim Cameron. They have done websites with a look similar to the “Phoney Fred” site for Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Keith Kelley as well as state senate candidates Scott Talley and Shane Massey.

The same group also runs A Daily Shot, a pro-Romney blog covering South Carolina politics that has been particularly critical of Thompson lately. Of the last five posts on the site – as of 9:30 P.M. Monday – four dealt with Thompson.

And an allegedly "Independent" pro-Romney grassroots website:

UPDATE: The New York Times notes that palMITTostate.com, Romney’s “volunteer” South Carolina grassroots Web site, is listed on the same account as Phoney Fred and Under the Power Lines.

So it sounds like these phony websites are a Romney modus operandi. And they threw a staffer, a deputy, under the bus when he was just executing company policy. Seems like there’s a little more accountability for this, doesn’t it?