An embarrassment returns to the Web
Republican ‘remakes’ state official’s ex-site
Thursday, December 12, 2002
BY JOSH MARGOLIN AND JEFF WHELAN
Roger Rajesh Chugh has found himself back in cyberspace, and he’s not happy about it.
Chugh, the No. 3 official in New Jersey’s Department of State, shut down his personal Web site in March after it became an embarrassment for Gov. James E. McGreevey, who appointed him. The site had exaggerated Chugh’s stature in state government and included personal-ad-style descriptions of his appearance and his fondness for Broadway shows and candlelit dinners.
Now the Web site is back, under new ownership — and what looks at first glance like self-promotion is actually a mocking reminder of the flap. It has photos of Chugh and glowing words about him (“Read Roger Chugh’s inspirational biography!”), but also includes news articles and commentary critical of him.
“Somebody’s playing dirty,” Chugh said.
The McGreevey administration is trying to figure out if there’s any way to make it go away. The Governor’s office has asked the attorney general’s staff to review the matter.
The new proprietor of the site is Anthony Olszewski, who ran the Web pages for Republican Bret Schundler’s campaign for governor last year. Olszewski picked up the rights to the Internet address (www.rogerchugh.com) for $15 a year after Chugh let it lapse.
“Everything is legal. I have no plans to take it down,” said Olszewski, a registered Republican from Jersey City. He said he has never met Chugh, and Chugh said he does not know Olszewski.
Schundler and the state Republican Party said they have nothing to do with the site.
“Nobody suggested I produce the site; nobody paid me,” said Olszewski. And he asked sarcastically why the Democratic administration is unhappy about it.
“Is there something wrong with me pointing out he (Chugh) still works for the state?” said the Web operator. “If they’re ashamed of that, I don’t blame them. But I don’t see how it’s illegal for me to point that out.”
Kevin Davitt, a spokesman for McGreevey, suggested the site’s new operator may be violating the law by including a link to New Jersey’s official state Web site.
“Obviously it’s disturbing — possibly illegal,” Davitt said. “It’s absolutely deceiving.”
But cyber-law expert Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University in Manhattan, said there is almost no way for government officials to control who links to their site, and it appears that nothing was done inappropriately when Olszewski obtained the Chugh Web address.
“They probably have to suck it up and live with it,” Moglen said.
Olszewski runs a number of Web sites, including an unofficial Jersey City site (www.getnj.com), and previously worked on Web pages for Schundler’s unsuccessful campaign against McGreevey.
Coincidentally, Schundler’s former site (www.Bret2001.com) also has been taken over by an outsider — it’s now being used as a come-on for sexually explicit material.