Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Open Letter to Chris Dodd

Dear Chris:

I think you’re a smart person who cares about honesty and the rule of law.

I also think your e-mail fundraising campaign is undermining that message by sending what I believe to be deliberately deceptive emails. To be clear, I am not referring to deception in the political message — spinning words, being loose with the facts, telling only half the story, etc. — I am referring to emails which show every sign of lying about the intent of the sender and contain a false and misleading message body, in an attempt to deceive the recipient into thinking he has inadvertently been copied on a private message from your campaign manager to Tim Tagaris. The idea, I suppose, is to enhance the perceived veracity of the email’s message by depicting it as private. A campaign might lie to the public, but within the family, so to speak, it would be much more honest.

This is a clever hack, and one which might work on some people. In fact, something very similar was done as part of a stock tout scheme. A woman left voicemail messages seeming to be intended for a close friend, explaining that she just got inside info on a company, and that the friend should invest. You don’t need to be a United States senator to see that this is both illegal and unethical. In the case of your analogous email, sir, it is certainly the latter. We will see if it is the former when the Federal Election Commission receives the registered letter I will be sending them.

By the way, if you have an honest IT staffer, feel free to have them contact me about getting the actual email. Here is a text rendering of the full header (with my email addresses altered to foil address-harvesting bots), and the misleading and untruthful portion of the message body:

Return-Path: <>
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.1.6 (2006-10-03) on
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-0.7 required=5.0 tests=ADVANCE_FEE_1,ALL_TRUSTED,
MISSING_SUBJECT autolearn=no version=3.1.6
X-Original-To: resident[-@-]
Delivered-To: cwalsh[-@-]
X-policyd-weight: using cached result; rate: -8.5
Received: from ( [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id D4CCCA1341
for <resident[-@-]>; Fri, 30 Nov 2007 11:38:30 -0600 (CST)
Received: from [] ([]
by (envelope-from <>)
(ecelerity r(19176)) with ESMTP
id C8/F2-01963-29A40574; Fri, 30 Nov 2007 12:38:26 -0500
Message-ID: <>
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 12:38:26 -0500 (EST)
From: Sheryl Cohen <>
To: resident[-@-]
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
Envelope-From: <>
X_email_KEY: 133294684
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
I made a few small changes to your email draft -- you'll see them in bold below.
Would have sent to the entire list, but I could only figure out how to send this test.

Update: I am not the only one who noticed.

3 comments on "Open Letter to Chris Dodd"

  • VARies says:

    Man…You need to get a hobby or something. Chill out and try not to take it so personally. I think the Dodd campaign found a way to finally be heard – and with mainstream media having their heads so far up the collective asses of clinton, obama and edwards, you need to be creative to be heard.
    If you don’t like it, unsubscribe.

  • Chris says:

    Creative, huh?
    How about this — Dodd’s people can look at the LinkedIn pages for those on their mailing list, and then forge emails from people’s contacts! That’d be creative as hell. Talk about some netroots disruptive technology subverting the dominant mediacentric paradigm!
    Creative is when a TV commercial appears to be for a laundry detergent and then turns out — after a surprise visit from the Energizer bunny — to be about batteries. This Dodd thing is, well, lying.
    With respect to Dodd not getting enough ink — you’ll have to pardon me for having exactly zero sympathy for a United States senator who can’t figure out a way to get on the damn news (wide stance techniques excluded, of course).
    And BTW, you’re reading my hobby.

  • darkuncle says:

    I don’t hold out much hope for intelligent policy stances on technology issues (net neutrality, patent reform, DMCA, copyright foolishness, etc.) from somebody without the sense to know that spamming is both illegal and unethical (not to mention just plain stupid, as it’s guaranteed to backfire, as we’ve seen from today’s post). *sigh*

Comments are closed.