Freedom — April 10, 2009 — Ten days after it was posted, a fake news release stating that CMI Motorsports has been awarded $18.5 million in federal stimulus money remains the lead story on the company’s website and is the top result in Google searches for the company.
That the claim is bogus was first reported by the Conway Daily Sun. The CMI website announcement states that the company and the State of New Hampshire’s Office of Economic Stimulus jointly applied for the funds as a “roadway project” and received approval as part of a $129 million government appropriation. The announcement goes on to say that the racetrack “is a perfect example of how this stimulus program will provide New Hampshire and its citizen’s [sic] incredible benefits in terms of job creation and other benefits.”
The CMI news release states that work on the track will begin this summer and suggests that contractors contact Jim Hoensheid, the company’s head of marketing, for instructions on how to bid on the project “and receive an RFP.”
How the story got on CMI’s website is a mystery, according to the Conway Daily Sun article, which quoted company president Lloyd Dahman as saying “I think somebody is having some fun with us.” Dahmen said he decided to leave the false story posted on the website to help find the perpetrator, according to the Sun.
State officials, however, would prefer otherwise.
Reached by phone today, Bud Fitch, the director of the New Hampshire Office of Economic Stimulus, confirmed the news release is a hoax and said his office has sent a communication to the company.
“We’ve asked them to label the story as an April Fool’s Day joke or remove it, preferably the latter,” Fitch said.
CMI announced plans to build the racetrack in April 2003 and gained traction a year later when Governor Craig Benson signed a law creating a new class of racetracks that were fundamentally exempt from local regulation. Multiple legal challenges ensued, and the project remains stalled in the courts.
Prior to the false story about stimulus funding, the last news release posted on CMI’s website was dated February 2008.