Spitzer Admits AIG Campaign Boo-boo

By Daniel Hays
National Underwriter News
April 7, 2005

Call it the Google goof of Eliot Spitzer.

In what a spokesman called "a mistake," the New York Attorney General's gubernatorial campaign apparatus briefly used the Internet search engine to link his electoral effort with his high profile investigation of the American International Group.

Web searchers who punched in AIG in the Google search field would pull up a page with a sponsored link to Mr. Spitzer's 2006 campaign site for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Darren Dopp, a spokesman for Mr. Spitzer, said the link was up for one day and "was taken down as soon as we found out about it."

He said purchase of the Google search link was the work of "a low level staffer casting about for something that would produce hits."

Mr. Dopp called it "an ill-advised choice," but noted that a number of campaigns buy search terms such as the name of an elective race or political party.

A telephone call for comment from AIG, which is being probed for its accounting practices by Mr. Spitzer and the Securities Exchange Commission, was not immediately returned.

Google search links in the past have been such an irritant to insurers that they have gone to court. GEICO sued unsuccessfully last year to prevent sponsored links to competitors from coming up when Web searches on Google were made for the name GEICO.

The Google Adwords sponsored link program has been in place four years and has thousands of advertisers. The company gives no breakdown by type of advertiser. The cost for a link starts at 5 cents per user click and can go up. Advertisers bid on the key word, a company spokesman explained.

Copyright 2005 by The National Underwriter Company.

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