Thursday, August 13, 2009

Website Similarities between the White House, Organizing for America, and SEIU

I wrote on Monday about my concerns on the similarities shared by the official White House website's Reality Check page and health care reform advocacy sites of Organizing for America and the Service Employees International Union. I have now learned that the Democratic National Committee, which runs Organizing for American, Obama for American, which was candidate Obama's presidential campaign organization, and the SEIU are all clients of Blue State Digital. According to Blue State Digital, these organizations "have put the BSD Online Tools and BSD's design, technology, and strategy services at the center of their online constituency-building programs."

So while the White House, DNC, and SEIU each employ BSD to help run their websites, it is not clear whether these three groups are truly coordinating their web-based activities or whether their websites just have similar looks because they all separately work with BSD.

On an interesting related note, Major Garrett of Fox News had a dust up with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today on whether the White House is sending out spam emails advocating for health care reform.

Note that Gibbs is quick to state that Organizing for America (or "OFA" as he calls it) and are separate and that he does not want Garrett to conflate the two so that someone might get the impression that White House employees are engaging in illegal political activities.

As to why people would get what look like unsolicited emails from the White House, there is an innocent explanation: the emails are simply being forwarded by someone outside of the White House. Allahpundit of and Ace of Spades have both offered this as a potential explanation on their sites. Allah has also offered the following updates to his post:

Update: A reader just forwarded me an e-mail her brother got Monday night. It is indeed the Axelrod post at the White House site that I linked to; it has a White House heading and a White House “from” e-mail address. It doesn’t appear to have been forwarded to her brother from any third party. He claims he doesn’t remember signing up for any WH e-mails. For what it’s worth.

Update: A second reader just e-mailed to say that he got the Axelrod e-mail too — and it’s not the first one he’s gotten:

I received this email this morning. This is the second email I received from this address. I started receiving these after I sent an email to the address……

Is that what’s happening here? Conservatives are spamming the White House snitch line, only to find themselves signed up for White House e-mails? I thought Gibbsy told us they’re not collecting names or other identifying information from that account. Has anyone else who spammed the snitch line gotten any Axelrod e-mails?

Update: A third reader e-mails to say he’s spammed the snitch line half a dozen times and hasn’t gotten anything from Axelrod. Curiouser and curiouser. A third reader e-mails to say he’s spammed the snitch line half a dozen times and hasn’t gotten anything from Axelrod. Curiouser and curiouser.

I have also reported myself to the White House for spreading what it calls "disinformation" on health care reform but have not received any emails from Axelrod. The most innocent explanation that I can think of is that multiple White House employees have access to the address, and one or more of them did not know the proper protocol and recorded some of the senders’ email addresses. While innocent, this would still be incompetent, but I have come to expect nothing less from this gang.

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