We’re no strangers to shenanigans. And Clout knows the rules don’t apply in a political “Rickroll.”

Just ask Jim Kenney, our term-limited Democratic mayor in Philadelphia.

Or Doug Mastriano, the Franklin County Republican state senator and likely contender for governor next year, who is still pushing for a “forensic investigation” of last year’s election despite the yawning absence of any evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Both have been Rickrolled, the internet prank that prompts people to click on a link to a website but sends them instead somewhere utterly unexpected.

This draws its name from pop star Rick Astley’s 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The Washington Post noted this week that song has passed one billion views on YouTube, thanks to people redirecting unsuspecting browsers that way.

Some prankster used the web-hosting service GoDaddy to create jimkenneyforgovernor.com last week. The site, registered anonymously, redirects to a June 2020 NBC10 story about Kenney acknowledging then that using tear gas on criminal justice protesters last year was a bad call.

Kenney, had previously signaled an interest in the 2022 races for the U.S. Senate and also for governor but told Clout on Thursday he isn’t running for either office.

“Now, if [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer calls me and wants me to take a train ride down, I’d think about it,” Kenney said, leaving the door cracked a teeny-tiny bit for Senate.

As for the Rickroll, Kenney put such pranks in the same category as social media, which he called “one of those banes of our existence that does more harm than it does good.”

Mastriano has been Rickrolled four times since November and the culprit was not difficult to discern: Three different websites in his name all go directly to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s website.

Brendan Welch, a spokesperson for the party, confirmed that it registered dougmastriano.com, mastriano2022.com, and dougmastriano2022.com.

“Doug Mastriano is the leading voice among Pennsylvania Republicans these days and we know the other GOP hopefuls are searching the internet for his positions so they can keep up,” Welch said. “We bought these domains as a public service — we want Pennsylvanians to be redirected to the truth, rather than Mastriano’s absurd conspiracy theories and dangerous lies.”

Mastriano, who did not respond to Clout’s hails, was also Rickrolled with the web address Mastrianoforgovernor.com, which links to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. A DSCC spokesperson said their organization had nothing to do with that.

Bannon pushes Pa. claims, absent evidence

Steve Bannon, a former adviser to Donald Trump, used his War Room podcast for weeks to hype My Pillow guy Mike Lindell’s three-day “cyber symposium” in South Dakota this week, where Lindell promised to finally reveal all the evidence he claims to have amassed about the 2020 presidential election being stolen in Pennsylvania and other swing states.

Bannon, on Instagram last Friday, gave his 25,000 followers three phone numbers for State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, telling them to call the Centre County pol to “demand he moves forward on sending the subpoenas” to launch an independent investigation of the 2020 election in Pennsylvania.

They must be getting through. Corman told ABC23 in Johnstown on Wednesday: “My phone calls from my constituents is overwhelmingly concerns about the integrity of the elections.”

This part will shock you: Lindell’s symposium didn’t deliver. The irrefutable proof? Not on display. Lindell on Thursday claimed his own “evidence” had been “compromised.” So much for his previous claim that Trump would be “reinstated” as president post-symposium.

Don’t take Clout’s word for it. Listen to Bannon. Broadcasting from the symposium Wednesday after appearing on stage, Bannon said Lindell was making a mistake by re-airing a video featuring previous claims while not providing the audience definitive proof.

“You’ve laid a theory of the case that is very powerful,” Bannon said. “But in laying that case out, you’ve got to bring the receipts.”


They call me Big, after my COVID-19 pounds, thank you.”

— Mayor Jim Kenney stirring awkward laughs from the crowd and sweating profusely on a swelteringly hot day after cutting the ribbon on new basketball courts Tuesday at the Francis J. Myers Recreation Center in Southwest Philly. Clout had questions but Kenney fast-walked away from our correspondent, demonstrating an efficient way to burn calories.

Staff writer Ellie Rushing contributed to this article.

Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.