How Partners Are Separating Politics From Business

Jason Adamany, founder and president of Adesys, Fitchburg, Wis., faced a conundrum after being asked to provide IT support for Republican governor Scott Walker during the 2012 recall election.

Because of how polarizing Walker's gubernatorial tenure had become, Adamany decided to take the proposal to each of his then 10 employees individually and figure out whether or not they were comfortable with Adesys taking on Walker as a client.

A handful said they weren’t comfortable but none objected more generally to Adesys taking on the work. Adamany removed the concerned employees from the project and ensured they didn’t have access to any sensitive data. Walker ultimately prevailed in the recall election, and Adesys continued to work for Walker during his 2014 gubernatorial re-election campaign and his unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid.

For solution provider New Signature, based in Washington, D.C., its mantra is to remain nonpartisan, which has sometimes turned off candidates expecting ideological purity from their IT partner.

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[Related: Big Data's Big Role In Big Politics]

’We work with anyone,’ said New Signature President Chris Hertz. ’We’re a business doing business with other businesses.’

Since New Signature isn’t aligned with the Democrats or the Republicans, Hertz said the company gets most of its political clients from a rather unusual source — nonprofits.

Prospective candidates not currently in office often sit on the board of 501c3 organizations supporting education or another nonpartisan mission, Hertz said. Since New Signature has a large practice helping nonprofits raise money and build their Web presence, it often hears about politicians planning to launch campaigns.

And for Coolhead Tech, despite having just five full-time employees and being based thousands of miles from Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s home state of Maryland, the company received a cold call last year from a member of Carson’s campaign who was interested in working with the Austin, Texas-based Google for Work Premier partner.

Coolhead principal consultant Chris Alghini suspects the Carson campaign was interested in using a Google-based ecosystem and came across Coolhead’s popular Google Apps blog. ’If you put the right tools in front of the right team, they’ll succeed,’ Alghini said.