An Orange County politician has launched a legal battle over his good name.
Costa Mesa City Councilman Allan Mansoor has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to retake control of his online domain name, which he alleges was “hijacked” and repurposed to advertise pornography.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, claims that an unknown party took control of a website bearing Mansoor’s name after his domain registration expired in 2015.
The site featured explicit appraisals of porn sites. There also were links to those sites.
The site with Mansoor’s name appeared to have been taken down Friday afternoon.
“Pornography is taboo in our society, and a reasonable person would object to being associated with pornography in the manner depicted,” the lawsuit states.
Whoever took control of the site has caused Mansoor to “suffer embarrassment, humiliation, shame, mortification and other forms of mental and emotional distress,” the suit says.
“We’re just trying to get to the bottom of this and trying to get my website back,” Mansoor wrote in an email Friday.
The lawsuit, which was first reported by OC Weekly, seeks unspecified financial damages and return of the domain name.
The pornography review site was live since early 2016, but the lawsuit states Mansoor didn’t notice the change until last spring, when he prepared to run for City Council. He was elected in November to return to the council, where he also served from 2002 to 2010.
Mansoor established the website in 2002, ahead of his first council bid. He maintained the domain during his stints on the council and in the state Assembly.
“Throughout this time, Mansoor used the domain ... to communicate and build relationships with his constituents,” the lawsuit states.
An archived version of the site from December 2015 shows information related to Mansoor’s unsuccessful 2014 bid for Orange County supervisor.
That same month, the site’s domain registration expired. Mansoor claims in the lawsuit that he didn’t receive a renewal notice and that the registration lapsed without his knowledge.
After that, someone acquired the domain and remade the website. The first “adult review” on the site was published in January 2016.
It’s unclear who took over the domain. A Whois Lookup search, which can reveal information about registered domain names, lists the owner as Domains by Proxy LLC, a company in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The lawsuit doesn’t name anyone who might have taken over the site, but it alleges that whoever did may be a political opponent of Mansoor’s.
Mansoor, a Republican, has waged a series of contentious campaigns and has “been outspoken on many controversial public issues,” the lawsuit states. “There are many people, known or unknown, who would like to embarrass him as retribution for his public actions.”
In his first stint on the City Council, Mansoor drew criticism, praise and widespread media attention for his efforts to crack down on immigrants in the country illegally who were working and living in Costa Mesa.
As mayor in 2010, he led a council action to declare Costa Mesa a “rule-of-law city when it comes to support for upholding immigration laws.”
He also pushed the city to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to check the immigration status of crime suspects and was named an honorary “Minuteman” by members of the Minuteman Project, a group that opposes illegal immigration.
Politics and domain names have intersected in Costa Mesa before.
During the heated 2010 council campaign, a Costa Mesa Police Assn. political committee used the domain Righeimer.com to list information critical of then-candidate and now-Councilman Jim Righeimer.
Righeimer said at the time that he lost the domain name after missing a payment.