According to this Yahoo News story, Howard Dean's former campaign manager Joe Trippi gets what countless consumer e-mail marketers fail to understand: When an interested party opts into an e-mail relationship with an entity, that entity cannot resell those e-mail addresses without seriously violating trust.
According to the story, Trippi told a group of "online mavens" that if Dean drops out of the race for the Democratic nomination, the Dean campaign ought not to sell the over 600,000 e-mail addresses they've collected to the eventual nominee. Why? Because those people have a relationship with Howard Dean, not with the Democratic Party.
Why so many consumer marketers seem to have a problem understanding this basic tenet of e-mail marketing is beyond me. Actually, it's not beyond me - They're probably blinded by dollar signs.
In the end, my money's on the Dean campaign selling out their user base. Maybe it's the cynic in me, but consumer e-mail marketing firms do this all the time, and I bet the Dean campaign uses the existing practice as justification to turn over the e-mail addresses. Of course, if the Dean campaign took a stance against turning the addresses over, I could be pleasantly surprised. We'll see...