The presidential hopeful's organization acknowledges it sent out unsolicited political e-mail messages, a black mark for a campaign praised for its tech savvy.
Declan McCullaghFormer Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Howard Dean's presidential campaign acknowledged on Monday that it had
spammed an undisclosed number of people with unsolicited political
The campaign said Dean, the , remained opposed to unsolicited bulk e-mail and
blamed the spamming on two contractors who had promised to contact only
people who had specifically requested to receive the advertisements.
"We recently contracted with two vendors who made assurances that their
lists were opt-in only," the campaign said in an e-mail to CNET
News.com. "On Tuesday, August 12th, Dean for America received notification
from a supporter that spam was being sent. We terminated our relationship
with both vendors immediately."
The Dean campaign's bulk e-mail, which was sent last week, was disclosed
by the Spamvertized.org Web site,
which tracks political spam. The e-mail message touted Dean's
accomplishments and asked for political support and donations, saying: "We
are going to win this nomination and defeat George W. Bush in 2004, but we
need your help."
Last week's spamming has the potential to embarrass a presidential campaign
that both the media and its own campaign staff has touted as particularly
Internet-savvy. A Newsweek cover story last
week said Dean "is revolutionizing political fund-raising with his clever
cyberstumping," while Dan Gillmor, a columnist for the San Jose Mercury
News, proclaimed that Dean and his staff "truly get the meaning of the
This is not the first time the Dean campaign has been embroiled in a
controversy over spam. The campaign's Texas affiliate apologized
earlier this year for spamming, saying "from now on, only people who
personally sign up for our e-mail lists, contribute money, volunteer or
sign a petition will receive e-mails from Dean for Texas."
There are some signs that politicians see spam as a cheap and effective
way to reach voters. For example, out of about that promise to regulate
commercial spam, not one attempts to restrict political e-mail messages.
In January, the campaign of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, another Democratic presidential hopeful,
acknowledged it had spammed prospective voters. So have many other
politicians. The Democratic Party has been caught spamming, as has Bill
Jones, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of California, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican.
The Dean campaign did not immediately respond to questions about which
e-mail contractors it hired, what kind of "opt-in" lists the
contractors promised or how many persons' in-boxes were