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Dean campaign Waves ‘Net guru’ Trippi goodbye

Chief ousted after conflict-of-interest charges

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On Monday we described the position of Democrat Presidential Candidate Howard Dean's campaign manager Joe Trippi as "on the edge". Now he's gone.

Earlier this week an old speech of Dean's resurfaced in which the Candidate advocated lock-down controls on personal computers, favoring a technology that would boost the stock of Trippi's consultant and former employer, Wave Systems. Trippi was prominent on bulletin boards as one of Wave Systems noisiest advocates. CNET's Declan McCullagh spun the story as one of Dean advocating Orwellian ID cards, but missed the rather more clear-cut conflict-of-interest charge: the campaign chief lining his own pockets by giving the Candidate bad advice.

Trippi was credited with encouraging volunteers to use Internet tools to meet and raise funds. But it was Trippi's poor use of a more traditional medium - TV - that caused dissent in the ranks. The campaign manager had two consultancies of his own: a marketing consultancy called Catapult Strategies based in San Jose, CA and Alexandria, VA; and Trippi, McMahon & Squier, also in Alexandria, through which Trippi himself controlled Dean's considerable TV ad war chest. The poor quality of the TV advertisements has been a consistent complaint in recent weeks, as the former poll-leader plummeted after the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.

"What Trippi built with the Dean campaign was amazing. Unprecedented. But the results weren't there. And in this biz, there's no margin for error," wrote Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos, an online community that's been following the primaries closely.

At least the Candidate doesn't have to answer conflict-of-interest charges surrounding his campaign - and he might be getting better technical advice.

Trippi is replaced by the chief of Al Gore's senatorial staff, and transition team of 2000, Roy Neel. ®

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