For-profit

Campaign Verify

Website:

www.campaignverify.org/

Location:

Washington, DC

Type:

For-profit organization

Formation:

2020

Executive Director:

Anna Quint

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Campaign Verify is a for-profit company that verifies the validity of political campaigns and organizations involved in mass texting on behalf of cellular providers. Campaign Verify claims that its service “helps prevent spoofing, increases trust, and preserves the integrity of political discourse and political communications,” and helps wireless carriers distinguish between real messages and spam. 1

At its launch, Campaign Verify was accused of selling “an ineffective service” to “risk-averse campaigns with minimal transparency and misleading claims” by political operatives in a HuffPost report, which also noted its then-board members’ ties to the political-texting industry. 2

Campaign Verify is a member of the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity, a project of the Joint Development Foundation, which was established by Adobe, Arm, Intel, Microsoft, and Truepic. 3 Dave Leichtman, director of corporate responsibility at Microsoft, serves as Campaign Verify’s chairman of the board. 4

Activity

Any candidate, political party, PAC, or 527 tax-exempt organization registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or a state, local, or tribal election authority can register with Campaign Verify. 5 As of June 2024, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) organizations are not eligible. 6

At its founding, Campaign Verify reportedly charged “hundreds to thousands of dollars” for its services. 7 It has since lowered its registration cost to a one-time fee of $95. Registrants submit official organizational information, such as their taxpayer identification numbers. Campaign Verify then investigates the organization to determine its validity, with 97% of applicants receiving approval. If approval is received, the applicant is given an Authorization Token that can be given to Campaign Service Providers or texting platforms to indicate Campaign Verify’s approval. 8 9

As of February 2024, Campaign Verify had verified the identity of 13,000 political organizations. 10

In September 2020, T-Mobile, which had almost 25% of the cellular market share, officially required all political organizations sending mass texts to attain verification from Campaign Verify. In March 2021, AT&T, which controlled almost 45% of the market, announced the same policy. 11

In February 2024, Campaign Verify executive director Anna Quint testified before the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) advocating for the establishment of legal mandates that all political text messages be “protected with identity verification safeguards.” 12

Leadership

Anna Quint has been the executive director of Campaign Verify since 2021 and is the president of the board of directors. She is also the executive director of the Banu Foundation, an anti-human trafficking foundation. Earlier, she worked for Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, a Washington state-based nonprofit that supports blind people. 13

Dave Leichtman is the chairman of the board of Campaign Verify. Leichtman is the director of corporate responsibility at Microsoft, and runs the company’s Democracy Forward program focused on civic engagement. He also leads Microsoft’s “internal coordination around US election security.” From 2003 to 2007, Leichtman was the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Blue State, an advertising agency and strategic consulting firm that provides services to left-of-center nonprofits, political causes, companies, and Democratic electoral campaigns. 14 15

Roddy Lindsay is a co-founder and founding board member of Campaign Verify. Lindsay is a tech entrepreneur who has been involved with many companies. In 2014, he co-founded Hustle, a pro-Democratic texting services company that is on the steering committee of Campaign Verify. Lindsay was Hustle’s chief executive officer until 2019. Hustle was acquired by Social Capital in 2020. 16 17

Campaign Verify’s advisory board includes over 20 for-profit companies in the “tech and messaging industry,” including Hustle, Peerly, Promp.io, and Telgorithm. 18

Controversy

Campaign Verify was founded in 2020 during the election and was quickly endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Soon after its establishment, HuffPost senior reporter Jessica Schulberg investigated the company and criticized its conduct. She interviewed ten individuals “working in the political texting and campaign world,” all of whom claimed that Campaign Verify sold “an ineffective service” to “risk-averse campaigns with minimal transparency and misleading claims.” Many employees of Democratic organizations and campaigns were alarmed by DSCC’s sudden requirement that all texting get approved by Campaign Verify, a new company they had never heard of, and they found the verification process confusing and expensive. 19

Schulberg found that three of Campaign Verify’s board members had ties to the texting vendor industry: Hustle co-founder Roddy Lindsay, and Opn Sesame co-founders Gary Coby and Gerrit Lansing, the latter two of whom were supporters of then-President Donald Trump’s campaign. Shulberg claimed these individuals had a conflict of interest and may have been trying to reshape industry standards through Campaign Verify to their financial and political benefits. Campaign Verify responded to the accusation by claiming that its board consisted of a bipartisan mix of industry experts. 20 As of June 2024, none of these individuals are on Campaign Verify’s board, though Hustle and Opn Sesame are still on the company’s steering committee. 21

Schulberg reported that when Campaign Verify launched its website, it stated that the company was “formed in collaboration with the DNC, RNC, and U.S. wireless carriers.” Campaign Verify later removed this statement. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) also stated that Campaign Verify used the DNC’s logo without permission. 22

Schulberg reported that Campaign Verify did not disclose the names of its board members until after HuffPost asked about their identities as part of its investigation. 23

References

  1. Quint, Anna. “Comments of Campaign Verify Inc.” U.S. Federal Communication Commission. February 23, 2024. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/10223145651271/1.
  2. Schulberg, Jessica. “A Firm Aimed At Fighting Disinformation In Political Texting Has Trump Ties, Serious Conflicts.” Huffington Post. September 11, 2020. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/campaign-verify-political-text-message-verification_n_5f5be8c6c5b67602f6052d19.
  3. “About Us.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/about.
  4. “David Leichtman.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dleichtman/.
  5.  “Who is Eligible?” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/.
  6. “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/faq.
  7. Schulberg, Jessica. “A Firm Aimed At Fighting Disinformation In Political Texting Has Trump Ties, Serious Conflicts.” Huffington Post. September 11, 2020. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/campaign-verify-political-text-message-verification_n_5f5be8c6c5b67602f6052d19.
  8. “Our Process.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/our-process.
  9. “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/faq.
  10. Quint, Anna. “Comments of Campaign Verify Inc.” U.S. Federal Communication Commission. February 23, 2024. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/10223145651271/1.
  11. “Campaign verify Explained.” Tatango. November 22, 2021. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.tatango.com/blog/political-text-messaging-campaign-verify-explained/.
  12. Quint, Anna. “Comments of Campaign Verify Inc.” U.S. Federal Communication Commission. February 23, 2024. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/10223145651271/1.
  13. “Anna Quint.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annaquint/.
  14. “About.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/about.
  15. “David Leichtman.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dleichtman/.
  16. “Roddy Lindsay.” Roddy Lindsay. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.roddylindsay.com/.
  17. Schulberg, Jessica. “A Firm Aimed At Fighting Disinformation In Political Texting Has Trump Ties, Serious Conflicts.” Huffington Post. September 11, 2020. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/campaign-verify-political-text-message-verification_n_5f5be8c6c5b67602f6052d19.
  18. “About.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/about.
  19. Schulberg, Jessica. “A Firm Aimed At Fighting Disinformation In Political Texting Has Trump Ties, Serious Conflicts.” Huffington Post. September 11, 2020. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/campaign-verify-political-text-message-verification_n_5f5be8c6c5b67602f6052d19.
  20. Schulberg, Jessica. “A Firm Aimed At Fighting Disinformation In Political Texting Has Trump Ties, Serious Conflicts.” Huffington Post. September 11, 2020. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/campaign-verify-political-text-message-verification_n_5f5be8c6c5b67602f6052d19.
  21. “About Us.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/about.
  22. “About Us.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/about.
  23. “About Us.” Campaign Verify. Accessed June 1, 2024. https://www.campaignverify.org/about.
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Campaign Verify


Washington, DC