Social trust is a popular online currency in modern political campaigns. Now a new service, Candidate Check, is bringing the mature industry of background checks and opposition research into the political web game. Founded by David Doud, a two-time candidate from Seattle frustrated by how easy it is for charismatic candidates to sweep up votes irregardless of their credentials and backgrounds, Candidate Check turns the traditional background check on its head by asking candidates to pay for the service and post a "Candidate Trusted" seal on their websites linking back to a independent report from the service.
As a former investigative reporter, candidate and private investigator myself, I was intrigued after Doud worked with NationBuilder founder Jim Gilliam to make it simply to integrate Candidate Check reports with NationBuilder websites and donation pages. (Doud points to studies that show greater online donations when a trust seal is paired with a payment form.) As a reporter, I've sat across from political consultants with envelopes full of documentation of some alleged misdeed (complicated real estate and residency scam allegations are popular opposition research fodder) by an opposing candidate. As a candidate, I published pdfs of my tax forms on my Facebook page. With Candidate Check, I could have run a background check on myself and given that out to the public.
Candidate Check is especially important for things like verification of military service credentials and medals and was used in the Texas primary for Ron Paul's congressional seat by veteran Wes Riddle. Doud's service, through employment background investigators and other trained professionals, will provide a simple verification of criminal history (hopefully lack thereof!) for $150 or a $1,500 "platinum" package including associate interviews and identification of testimonials to counter any allegations against a candidate.
I tried out a basic package that included diploma, licensing and employment verification along with the standard criminal check. The process started at the Candidate Check website and got underway after I'd agreed to publication of the report's findings. I was sitting across from NationBuilder's office manager when she got the call to sign off on my tenure at the company, and a day later I got an email with a link to my report's findings. I plugged the URL into my NationBuilder campaign settings and now it's there for the world to see.
Now to find another office to run for ...