It's worth noting before I begin that I haven't followed all of this Adolf Somer Stalin drama as closely as some, but I have grasp on the basics. Somer Blink and others are giving rewards to those who use their referral link for buying PLEX. These are in the form of lottery credit or straight up ISK payments. Through this method, it's possible to exchange ISK for small amounts of real life money. Because of it's roundabout nature, this doesn't violate the rule against trading ISK and real world money.
A group of players have taken issue with this however. Since even though this is "technically" allowed, it's an obvious loophole to get around the rule that was supposed to prevent this. I've heard that this kind of behaviour breaks the sandbox, but so does PLEX and people seem fine with that. When it comes to PLEX, you might be buying ISK at a rate determined by the in-game market, but you're still buying ISK with money. Considering how high the turnover on PLEX is, it seems people have been fine with a broken sandbox for a long time.
The fact is that there are lots of legitimate ways to turn in game money into cash. themittani.com and evenews24.com both pay their staff in ISK while making ad profits on their websites. syndicatecl.com make advertisement revenue from their tournament streams while paying out prizes in ISK and more companies are looking to do the same (ESL are getting into Dust 514). That's not even mentioning all the streamers, bloggers and other content creators who make money from what they do as well.
In the interest of being honest about conflicts of interest, I run adverts on my blog and a number of my Youtube videos. I've had a lot of positive feedback about both of these and complaints are almost entirely about the content I've made. I don't think anyone has ever come to me and said I should be banned for doing what I do. Hell, Nintendo tried to prevent people on Youtube making money from their content and had to change their stance after it turned into a PR nightmare. We live in a world where people make money by creating content around the games that they play and that isn't likely to change.
There's a second problem people have with Somer though. CCP decided to give their staff a number of unique ships in EVE as a reward for their work. This is the more serious issue because it's straight up giving certain players an advantage over others. Allowing people to move ISK around in the sandbox because of purchasable items is one thing, but straight up handing people billions of ISK in assets is straight up ignoring that the sandbox even exists. This wasn't the first time either, they also gave out the same ships to SCL staff too.
If CCP wants to reward fans who work for third party websites, they should give out of game assets. Things like clothing, posters or board games would be appreciated and wouldn't upset the game.
The last point I'd like to go into is CCP promoting third parties. It's hard to criticize CCP for any kind of promotion of their fans. Mad Ani got a partnership on twitch.tv after a large amount of promotion by CCP. EVE radio (who make money via donations and premium services) will have CCP staff come on as guests and will see an increase in listeners when that happens. CCP have a program dedicated to promoting this and before this RMT drama, I never saw complaints about them promoting websites based around their game. It's weird to see quotes like this...
So to confirm, CCP give Somer huge advantages over their rivals such as prizes and promotion. They utilise an RMT loophole to make $$$.from someone who sells merchandise, has a history of interviewing CCP staff and has an article on CCP's website promoting his website.
I guess this entire situation is all a big mess though. CCP could close down this loophole, but other loopholes exist. Considering the amount of money involved here, it doesn't seem like the impact will be that much bigger compared to the sheer size of the PLEX system. Some players might cash out their hundreds of billions, but if that was all that was keeping them here, were they truly happy anyway?
For now though, the only people I see doing anything wrong here are CCP. Giving out unique rewards to groups of players outside of tournaments and events seems like a line they should avoid crossing. If the referral system starts to negatively impact the game, they can look into shutting that down too. For now, I'm going to go make some more videos though, before people come after those too.