Thursday, August 27, 2009

Excuse me Blue State Digital, but might that be a conflict of interest?

Ahhhh Blue State Digital. The heroes of the Obama online campaign. Much hyped masters of 'teh interweb' selling the ultimate dream of successful online political campaigning.

The thing is, in a business where you are managing campaigns for clients, and taking their money in the process, having conflicts of interest is not a clever way forward.

The thing is, it looks like Blue State Digital might just have one. Only a teeenyweeny one admittedly, but something rather4 odd is going on.

You see, the Electoral Reform Society has a campaign currently running called Vote For A Change.

It's a campaign for voting reform and is being done on the back of the anti-politician feeling out there since the expenses scandal. As you can see the idea is a countdown to the next election, amongst its supporters are Compass.

Now, a quick look at the hosting records for "Vote for A Change" suggests that the campaign is being run by a company called Soapbox Communications. However, and this the odd thing, unlike most sites which have their domain records on hosting provider servers, like for example, Soapbox itself does, the records say the "Vote For A Change" domain is managed by the server and

Now comes the slightly more curious part. There is another campaign that has recently been launched, called Power 2010. The campaign is a "countdown to a new politics" which intends to get support for, amongst other things, voting reform. Sound familiar? And who is looking after the Power 2010 domain? That would be errrr..... Blue State Digital.

Now, according to the privacy policy,
The POWER2010 campaign has been launched with the support of a wide range of organisations and individuals. Administratively it is a project of the Citizens' Inquiry, set up and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.
OK, so that suggests there is more than just Joseph Rowntree involved in the campaign, this seems especially the case as the address they give on the same page is not a registered address for Joseph Rowntree that I can find. The address for Power2010 is given as Southbank House, Black Prince Road.

Would that be the very same Southbank House, Black Prince Road where Compass is?

So, we seem to have one Blue State Digital campaign for the Electoral Reform Society (supported by Compass), and a second near-identical Blue State Digital campaign being run out of an office that shares an address with Compass.

Is it just me, or have Blue State Digital got a bit of a conflict of interest here? Is it not a bit off to be commercially involved in two near-identical, and thus rival, political campaigns at the same time?

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