November 19, 2007, 7:00 a.m.
Did Mitt Romney Push Poll Himself?
A web of connections.
By Mark Hemingway
update: The Romney campaign responds to this piece here. TargetPoint Consulting responds here.
News broke Thursday that voters in New Hampshire and Iowa had received phone calls from pollsters raising questions about aspects of Republican Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. Who made the calls? Although the Romney campaign denies involvement, evidence points in its general direction. The anti-Mormon calls are part of a highly unethical but not uncommon political campaign tactic known as push polling.
Not surprisingly, the former governor of Massachusetts denounced the calls in no uncertain terms Friday. “I think the attempts to attack me on the basis of my faith are un-American,” Romney said in a video sent out by his campaign. “This is a time when we’re preparing for Thanksgiving, a time when we’re going to celebrate the fact that this nation was founded in part to allow people to enjoy religious freedom. We celebrate the diversity of different thoughts and beliefs and the idea that people would attack religion at a time like this is frankly un-American.”
“Un-American” in the Campaign Family?
Shortly after reports of Romney being targeted in a push poll emerged, the firm making the calls was identified as Western Wats, which is based in Utah and has a number of Romney campaign contributors on the payroll. Western Wats was founded by Ron Lindorf who has ties to the business school at the Mormon-owned Brigham Young University, Romney’s alma mater (Lindorf has since divested himself from the company). Lindorf’s brother Paul and his wife Teena are avid supporters of Romney (Paul is a former employee of Western Wats who retired five years ago; Paul and Teena claim not to know Romney or have a vested interest in his campaign).
Evidence collected from Internet bulletin boards dedicated to tracking telemarketers and nuisance phone calls suggests that Western Wats may be tied directly to the Romney campaign.
This is how Whocalled.us describes its mission:
The phone is ringing, and I don't recognize the number, All Caller ID says is, "NAME UNAVAILABLE". Please help me figure out who is calling and what they want.
Site users can post information about the calls they have received and who they came from, creating a searchable reference for others.
On Whocalled.us there are 16 reports of people receiving unwanted calls from Western Wats using the phone number (801) 623-4621 going back to October of last year. Dial that number and you will be connected to Western Wats.
On another website, Whocallsme.com, “a user supplied database of phone numbers of telemarketers, non-profit organizations, charities, political surveyors, SCAM artists, and other companies that don't leave messages, disconnect once you answer, ignore the Do-Not-Call List regulations, and simply interrupt your day,” has a page tracking unwanted calls from the number above.
According to Whocallsme.com, on August 16 — almost exactly three months before the anti-Romney calls were made in Iowa and New Hampshire, a user named Bruce reported:
Call from Amanda at Target Point Consulting
66 Canal Center Plaza No. 555Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 535-8505 fax: (703) 535-8517
Caller ID: (801) 623-4621 [Emphasis Added]
Caller: Target Point Consulting
A Western Wats-Target Point connection sets off alarm bells since the Romney campaign has paid Target Point consulting $720,000 (see here and here).
Read the rest of the article here.