Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Problem with Dan Seals and The Point

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.”


Team America said...

UM- just in case anyone thinks we're making all this up, here is a copy of an actual e-mail that was received by a Chicago college organization (I have blanked out the names to protect privacy and also because I don't want to give away my mole), but I got hold of this e-mail just after I had discovered The Point website by simply searching for Dan Seals Consulting on Google.

I would expect that if Seals wanted to deny that this was his new gig, he would have already sued The Point and gotten them to stop claiming him as an employee.

Why is he trying to keep this a secret?

Here's the text of the actual e-mail:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Dan Seals <>
Date: Oct 23, 2007 5:47 PM
Subject: [***GROUP NAME REMOVED ***XXX}and The Point ("Myspace for Campaigns")

I was just on your website and thought that you and your members might be interested in The Point ( as an additional way to enact change. The Point is a site for organizing and joining campaigns of all sizes. It's kind of like Myspace for campaigns. We're finding that a lot of students are taking an interest in it because they have a national audience for their initiatives. The site is free and non-partisan and based right here in Chicago. I hope it can be helpful. Here are links to some of the campaigns on the site. I hope you decide to start your own. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Dan Seals

The Point

Director of Outreach

T - 312-676-2786
F - 312-676-2728
E -
Suite 850
600 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60610

Anonymous said...

Well, UM, how DOES The Point make an income? Nobody has yet been able to address that so we can understand how Dan gets a salary. So tell me, he's an "activist" and he's a "business development" guy and he's now also Director of Outreach. He's a busy guy, for sure, so why isn't he out there touting this new venture? I'm sure it will all come out during his debates with Jay Footlik. Dan seems to be running a rather low key, stealth campaign so far. I'm sure it's due to the fact that he's out there scouring the college campuses to drum up new "business ventures" for The Point. When you figure this out will you please post the answer!