For Immediate Release
April 3, 2012
Anne M. Edwards, Associate Attorney General
Attorney General Michael Delaney announced today his office has filed a lawsuit against the Bass Victory Committee ("Bass Committee") alleging the Bass Committee was engaged in push polling, and that it deliberately avoided compliance with New Hampshire's disclosure requirements for all push polls.
The State has alleged that the Bass Committee, with the assistance of the Tarrance Group, drafted a push poll script used to make 400 calls to New Hampshire residents in September 2010. The original draft of the push poll script included the following disclosure: "The Tarrance Group wishes to thank you for participating in this survey - which was commissioned and paid for by the Bass Victory Committee . . . 603-226-6000. Good night."
In an email dated September 16, 2010, to the Tarrance Group, the Bass Committee's Campaign Manager asked:
Could we change the disclaimer at the end to NRCC [National Republican Congressional Committee] since they are paying for half of it? I'd rather have any issues about 'push polling' be blamed on them (sorry Brock), rather than us - especially with the date rape drug question in there.
As a result of the alleged deliberate attempt to avoid the requirements of New Hampshire's push poll law, the lawsuit against the Bass Committee seeks civil penalties of up to $1,000 per call as is called for under the push poll law.
Under New Hampshire law, push polling is defined as
(a) Calling voters on behalf of, in support of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office by telephone; and
(b) Asking questions related to opposing candidates for public office which state, imply, or convey information about the candidates character, status, or political stance or record; and
(c) Conducting such calling in a manner which is likely to be construed by the voter to be a survey or poll to gather statistical data for entities or organizations which are acting independent of any particular political party, candidate, or interest group.
RSA 664:2, XVII.
While push polling is legal in New Hampshire, any person who engages in push polling must include the following information at some point during the call:
(a) that the telephone call is being made on behalf of, in support of, or in opposition to a particular candidate for public office;
(b) identify that candidate by name; and
(c) provide a telephone number from where the push polling is conducted.
RSA 664:16-a, I.
Attorney General Michael Delaney stated: "My office will continue to enforce New Hampshire's elections laws that require disclosures to citizens by candidates or political organizations engaging in campaign-related telephone calls or push polls. Our elected officials are calling for these investigations, and it is my obligation to enforce violations of the laws brought to my attention."
In the past eighteen months, the Attorney General's Office has reached settlements or initiated civil enforcement actions in four matters related to violations of push poll and robo-calling elections laws.
1.) In October 2010, polling company Mountain West Research Company reached a $20,000 civil settlement for a poll made on behalf of the Paul Hodes' campaign for United States Senate. Representative David Bates, Chair of the House Elections Law Committee, filed the complaint with the Attorney General's Office.
2.) In August 2011, the New Hampshire Democratic Party paid a $5,000 fine for pre-recorded political messages made on behalf of the NHDP. William O'Brien, Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, filed the complaint against the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
3.) In January 2012, On Message, Inc., a Virginia polling company, paid $15,000 for a poll made on behalf of Frank Guinta's Congressional campaign in 2010. Margaret King and Representative William Infantine filed the complaint with the Attorney General's Office.
4.) Today, the Attorney General's Office commenced this civil action against the Bass Victory Committee. Representative Kathleen Taylor had filed the complaint with the Attorney General's Office.
A link to a copy of the lawsuit filed in the Merrimack County Superior Court is below.
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New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301