A website quoted in the media featuring the only Republican running for Akron mayor is apparently a hoax.
In a sharp statement issued Thursday, Josh Sines criticized what he is calling a potentially illegal attempt to "sabotage" his campaign for mayor.
“I find it flattering that someone needs to create a Russian-style fake new website about my mayoral campaign,” Sines said.
Sines, who manages the Rockne's restaurant on Merriman Road in Akron and is a ring announcer for wrestling and other matches on weekends, said his official campaign website is http://www.JoshSinesForAkron.com. The Beacon Journal is not repeating the fake website address allegedly created to ridicule Sines, who's deployed self-deprecating humor in the past to joke about his landslide political defeats as a Republican underdog in a city dominated by Democrats.
The site Sines disowns uses photos of him in a Halloween costume, snarky campaign punch lines turned into hashtags and a title that borrows from President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again movement. Sines took it as a personal affront.
“I would never personally attack the current, former or any candidates for mayor," Sines said. "The website is probably actually an election violation in that it has no disclaimer.”
“This is Summit County politics at its finest,” Sines continued. “My team will run an issue-based campaign that addresses the problems of the city of Akron, not attack individuals. I believe in civility in campaigns.”
Sines told the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com that he became aware of the bogus website when it was quoted and linked in a Cleveland.com story about candidates who filed in Akron. The reporter on that story said she doesn't generally explore the creators of politicians' websites. The campaign to re-elect Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan denied any knowledge of the website until seeing it Thursday morning. The Rev. Greg Harrison, a Democrat challenging Horrigan, said he knows Sines to be a "nice guy" but had heard nothing of the parody website.
Sines has been a precinct official, municipal court bailiff and board of elections employee. He ran unsuccessfully in 2018 in a solidly Democratic Ohio House district in Akron.
The website in question features a 2018 Make Akron Great Again copyright and says it is powered by GoDaddy GoCentral Website Builder.
An automatic email reply from GoDaddy said someone would get back to a Beacon Journal/Ohio.com reporter about who created the fake campaign page and whether the website company monitors for political activity that may run afoul of state or federal election rules.
Reach Doug Livingston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3792.