ChaCha searches for political clout

We'd heard of state birds, but official state websites? Yes. Mitch Daniels, Indiana's governor, helped select human-powered search engine ChaCha as the state's official website. He also played a role in conscripting Indiana University staff as unpaid "guides" for ChaCha. Now it's time for Scott Jones, CEO and founder of ChaCha, his investors, and friends to return the favor. Tomorrow, Jones will be hosting a fundraiser at his megamansion, inviting business leaders both Midwestern and bicoastal with the hope of raising a million dollars in a single day.


Jones has already cut his own $100,000 check for Daniels's campaign and says $750,000 of the million-dollar goal is already committed. Jack Gill, an early ChaCha investor appointed by Governor Daniels as an Indiana University trustee, counts among the contributors with his own substantial donation. Likewise, John McIlwraith, managing director of Cincinnati-based venture capital firm Blue Chip Venture, also a ChaCha investor, is among Daniels's supporters.

McIlwraith, on his support for Daniels:

As far as governors who seem to get it when it comes to creating the right environment for high-growth tech companies, he's high on the list. If Indiana is successful, it will give us more investment opportunities. It feeds on itself.
Indeed. While Daniels may bend over backwards to create the right environment for high-growth tech companies, we're not sure how a small circle of of also-ran tech companies with high-profile sweetheart deals counts as a positive result.

The only real question, though, is whether Daniels's ties to ChaCha count as a political benefit. Indiana Democrats hope to portray Mitch Daniels as out of touch with the average Hoosier and in the pocket of fat-cat businessmen. Shouldn't be too difficult, since we suspect the average Hoosier uses Google.