Team America has a series of posts on Dan Seal’s new company The Point – a for-profit, activist web community that creates campaigns to target businesses and problems people think need fixed. There are thousands of targets, ranging from big corporations to Lake County Doctors. I did a little digging at their site and found some troubling aspects to the venture, including questions about how they make a profit, how targets are selected, and a general willingness to obscure and bend the truth as well as outright lie. A few examples:
In his Point bio, Dan is described as a former congressional candidate – But he has been campaigning as a congressional candidate in the dem primary for the last year and he filed petitions Monday. Nothing former about that.
From the Point’s vision statement: We believe The Point best serves the public as a non-partisan facilitator of participatory democracy – Political campaigns are partisan by nature, and having a Director of Business Development actively running in a democratic primary for elective office is hardly bi-partisan.
Of course this could all be a much bigger problem for the Point if, as suggested by the Seal’s campaign, Dan does not work for The Point at all, writing in an e-mail, “Here's the deal. Dan is a business consultant and adjunct professor at Northwestern University.”
And then there is the campaign against Starbucks:
Began on September 10th to Stop Starbucks from Using Hormone-Injected Milk., the Point declared the campaign a success with only 43 of the 50,000 required members joining, including Seals. But you see, Starbucks had already addressed this problem, issuing a press release back in early June on their goal of using no dairy produced with rBGH in U.S. stores. Food and Water Watch, a non-profit watchdog and advocacy group received a letter from Starbucks in August citing the company’s commitment to be rBGH free by the end of 2007. Well before the Point went on-line. I suppose picking a problem that has already been solved is one way to claim success. But a for-profit venture taking the credit for a not-for-profit effort is, well, slimy.
There is a problem when a company that sets itself up to be a web-based knight in shining armor for fairness, honesty and accountability goes about its business this way. And there is an even bigger problem when a candidate for public office has a leadership position in the company and is not willing to state clearly “this is where I work.”