Every community, it goes without saying, is built on trust - and nowhere is this more true than online. In the digital realm, where you can't see and seldom know the people you're interacting with, being able to trust the folks on the other end of the line is of the utmost importance. We need to know, as best we are able, that people are who they say they are, that they mean what they say, and that they have the community's best interests at heart.
Conversely, pretense, hidden agendas, and fabrications can do great damage to a place like this. Without a basic level of trust, an online community loses its credibility, its cohesiveness, and its influence. Both the administrators and the users of this site understand this well, and it's why we all spend as much time as we do trying hard to preserve the trust we've built here.
Because of this fundamental need to maintain trust, in the political blogosphere, we hold campaigns to the highest of standards. Candidates regularly come here seeking our support, our volunteer hours, and our money. These are serious things to ask for, and if you're going to ask for them, we expect nothing but total scrupulousness.
When a campaign violates this trust, it's an abuse of our entire community and cannot be allowed to stand. Because of the higher standard we hold campaign officials to, it has been our policy in the past to make such violations public when we discover them. Unfortunately, we have discovered another such transgression.
Andrew Eldredge-Martin is the campaign manager for Doug Pike, a Democrat running in Pennsylvania's Sixth Congressional District. Drew, who has posted here as DrewEM, used sockpuppet accounts to post disparaging remarks about another Democrat running in the PA-06 primary at the Swing State Project (a sister site of Daily Kos of which I am the publisher).
As it turns out, Drew also used a sockpuppet account at Daily Kos over the years to comment on two other races he managed, Bob Lord's campaign against John Shadegg in AZ-03 in 2008, and Chris Carney's campaign against Don Sherwood in PA-10 in 2006. Needless to say, this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. If campaign officials have something to say about the very race they're working on, then it is mandatory that they speak out in their own voice. Pretending to be an impartial observer, especially for the purposes of spreading negative information about opponents, is a complete violation of our trust. For the most senior official, a campaign manager, to do so is especially unacceptable.
I offered Drew the chance to apologize, and told him I would include any apology in this post. Not only did I never hear back, but it appears Drew used the opportunity to edit the bio and signature line of his sockpuppet account, in a belated attempt at transparency. This information was not present in the sockpuppet account when we first discovered Drew's malfeasance. (Drew's behavior also stands in marked contrast to that of another senior campaign official, who, when confronted about similar activities, offered a complete apology.)
Because it is our policy to ban those who create sockpuppet accounts, we have done so here. But this should also be a lesson to anyone - and to any campaign - contemplating something similar. We will remain eternally vigilant in policing this site. We will not tolerate this kind of behavior. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that the trust which animates this site remains unbroken.