Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Republican Party of Florida pulls some slimy sh*t (again) and spokesperson Susan Hepworth is clueless

Last year, we learned that the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) paid a Texas company tens of thousands of dollars to manage Florida Governor Rick Scott's Facebook account.

That fact came to light after the company phonied-up a Miami Herald front page. Herald executives were not amused.

"The posting of a fraudulent front page of the Miami Herald is unacceptable," [Herald managing editor Rick] Hirsch said. "Not only is it a fraud on the public, but it is trademark infringement for use of our masthead in a fake edition, and copyright infringement for those portions of the front page that were not fabricated."
So, you'd think that experience might have taught the RPOF folks a lesson. But you'd be wrong

Now, just in time for the NBA Finals, the RPOF is up to its old tricks, rolling out an even sleazier version of last year's trademark and copyright infringement episode. And, apparently they're hoping no one will notice.

Early this afternoon, someone at the RPOF's Facebook War Room posted this status update on Gov. Scott's Facebook page.

Screen shot taken from Florida Gov. Rick Scott's
Facebook page
on June 11, 2013.

The message is harmless enough. But what caught my interest was the accompanying image.

The photo was shot by a Getty Images photographer. An un-cropped version can be seen here on Sports Illustrated's website.

It appears that someone at the RPOF took some liberties with the image, turning it into a Rick Scott campaign poster.

Click image to enlarge.

To be precise, the RPOF has used an image that it stole didn't license from Getty Images as a campaign poster, compounding the crime by adding RICKSCOTTFORFLORIDA.COM at the bottom of the image. And then to make matters worse, the RPOF's Photoshop Wizard slapped a (trademarked) Miami Heat logo on Getty's (copyrighted) image.

I called a Getty Images sales representative in New York this afternoon.

The rep - who asked that I not use his name - said it was hard to offer an opinion without seeing the image, but he added, "I can state emphatically that Getty does not license images of NBA players for use by political parties. The NBA is very strict when it comes to licensing these kinds of images."

Next, I called Susan Hepworth, the RPOF's deputy communications director.

I asked her how the image came to be used on Scott's Facebook page.

She logged onto the governor's Facebook page, looked at the picture and then told me she'd have to get back to me. But before hanging up she said, "My best guess is that this is an image that is in the public domain."

Wrong answer, Susan...and an astounding statement coming from a professional spokesperson for a major political party. Images shot by professional photographers one day do not become public property the next day. Got it, Susan? You might want to check with some intellectual property lawyers on that point if you don't believe me.

Hepworth has yet to get back to me with an answer, despite the fact that I've called her numerous times since our initial conversation.


  1. They missed an obvious opportunity to replace the ball with Scott's bald head…

  2. I'm always impressed by the high level of integrity exhibited by everything about Gov Dickwithears -- his policies, professional associates, public statements, etc. Good post.


Feel free to comment on anything you read here.

All comments must first be approved. Spam and spam links will not be tolerated or approved.