I've been waiting on this until the question is well past, so here goes.
Imagine you're on a search committee, and someone not on the committee wants to talk to you about one of the applicants. What do you do? Do you avoid discussing the search? Listen and keep it to yourself? Listen and share with the other members of the committee? (and why?)
Does it matter if the person who wants to talk to you is a member of the department, and so will have a chance to give feedback during campus visits?
Edited to add: I guess I thought it was an ethical question for a couple reasons.
First, there's the implication that the search committee should give one applicant special consideration. But if an applicant doesn't stand out through his/her letter (etc.), why? And if an applicant is that bad, isn't it likely that they'll do poorly at some stage so we'll know it?
Second, in my experience, this is pretty much always a good old boy network working on behalf of a junior good old boy. And those folks have plenty of advantage already.
And third, around here, it tends to happen because an applicant is from the area; we've had a tendency to hire folks from this area in excess, because, gosh, they're from here! Given our demographics, that means it works against people of color, people from different countries, people from different regions. And that works to the disadvantage of our students. They need to interact with people of color, and not just read Sula. Again, if the applicant's materials stand out, the committee will spot it.
On the other hand, if one of my friends had applied for a job one year, I would have wanted to ask the committee to take an extra good look at her materials.