Email Gaffe Leaves Insiders Fuming

Email Gaffe Leaves Insiders Fuming

Email Gaffe Leaves Insiders Fuming
By Dave Levinthal

It’s one letter, but a world of difference between the email fields “bcc” and “cc.”

That lesson was learned the hard way when a message – a fundraiser invitation for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart —was sent today by law firm Becker & Poliakoff and obtained by POLITICO. It included the personal email addresses of every recipient, including hundreds of elite federal lobbyists, public affairs specialists and politicos.

And though the misspelled subject line shouts that the enclosed message is “NPOT (sic) FOR FURTHER CIRCULATION,” recipients were not inclined to lay off the “forward” button.

“I hate it when it happens in business or politics. It’s just sloppy work,” said Dave Wenhold of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, who received the fundraiser solicitation.

“They shouldn’t be showing the names of the people they are inviting,” Robert Deposada, a former Republican National Committee director of Hispanic affairs.

“Listing my email address is of concern to me, and I request it not be done as it brings no merit as I do not participate in political activities of any type,” said Hector Gonzalez, another recipient.

Other recipients of the revealing solicitation who did not want to be named described it as “ridiculous” and “amateur.” Several recipients contacted demanded that their names and email addresses not be published, citing privacy concerns.

And one Democratic lobbyist who received the message says that for some recipients, it “opens you up to community criticism and peer pressure in a whole new way that is troublesome.”

The sender, Becker & Poliakoff Managing Director Omar Franco, says the email revelation is “absolutely, 100 percent an honest mistake,” adding that he wasn’t sure how the names ended up in either the “To” or “Cc” field of his email program instead of the “Bcc” field, which shields recipients from public view.

He told POLITICO that any recipient with a concern should contact him.

The foible could have easily been prevented by using a “customer relationship management program,” such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, said Jim Turner, president of Hilltop Consultants, a Bethesda, Md.-based IT consulting firm that specializes in political and governmental clients.

Using a standard email interface “is a very low-tech solution for sending mass email,” Turner said. “A program would have absolutely helped avoid this problem.”

For the consternation it caused, the solicitation, which invites guests to attend a barbecue at 227 C St. SE in the District on behalf of Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), and suggests donations ranging from $100 (young professional) to $1,000 (host), didn’t bother some.

“Doesn’t matter to me as everyone works from essentially the same lists,” said Andrew Shore of boutique law and lobby firm Jochum Shore & Trossevin/Black Swan. Ryan Weston of the Sugar Cane League said this latest political sweetener is just more of the same from politicians and their associates.

“Considering that I get 100 fundraising invitations per day – no, it really isn’t a concern,” he said.

Source: Politico, September 12, 2011

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