Politics
David Axelrod (Photo: AP) David Axelrod (Photo: AP)  

Judicial Watch: ‘Obama gang’ tried to intimidate transparency group before Gallup

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

President Barack Obama’s White House officials tried using the same intimidation tactics against conservative pro-transparency organization Judicial Watch in 2009 as the administration is using against The Gallup Organization right now, Judicial Watch’s president told The Daily Caller.

“The Obama gang did the same thing to us!” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in an email to TheDC. “The WH also ‘invited’ us over because they had concerns about ‘inaccuracies’ in a press release attacking visitor log secrecy – told us we should say nice things about them and they would say nice things about us.”

Last week, TheDC published internal Gallup emails showing that senior Obama re-election campaign adviser David Axelrod tried to subtly intimidate the respected polling firm when its polling results were unfavorable to the president. In April, Axelrod tweeted that a poll showing Mitt Romney with a 48-43 percent lead over Obama was “saddled with some methodological problems,” directing his Twitter followers to read a National Journal story criticizing Gallup polls showing a Romney lead.

Internally, Gallup officials discussed via email how to respond Axelrod’s accusations. One suggested that it “seems like a pretty good time for a blog response,” and named a potential writer.

In response to that suggestion, another senior Gallup official wrote — in an email chain titled “Axelrod vs. Gallup” — that the White House “has asked” a senior Gallup staffer “to come over and explain our methodology too.”

That Gallup official, the email continued, “has a plan that includes blogging and telling WH [the White House] he would love to have them come over here etc. This could be a very good moment for us to [show] our super rigorous methods compared to weak samples etc.”

The writer named several news organizations with their own polling methodologies, all of which resulted in numbers more favorable to President Obama at the time.

In response to that email, a third senior Gallup official said he thought Axelrod’s pressure “sounds a little like a Godfather situation.”

“Imagine Axel[rod] with Brando’s voice: ‘[Name redacted], I’d like you to come over and explain your methodology… You got a nice poll there… would be a shame if anything happened to it…’”

In a second email chain titled “slanderous link about Gallup methodology,” another senior Gallup official noted that a Washington Examiner story on Axelrod’s anti-Gallup tweet was “on [the] Drudge [Report] right now,” before writing that the episode was “[s]o politically motivated, it’s laughable.”

“As they say in b-ball: he’s trying to work the refs,” that official wrote to other senior Gallup staffers. “What a joke. Axel’s had a bad week. He got in the middle of the Ann Romney thing. Then said the country is going in the wrong direction. (Oops!) Now he’s swinging at us.”

In the time since those Gallup officials refused to cooperate with Axelrod’s and the Obama White House’s intimidation attempts, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice hit it with an unrelated lawsuit that appears damning on its face. The DOJ revived old allegations against the firm that, according to now former Gallup employee Michael Lindley, the polling company violated the False Claims Act by over-charging the federal government for its services. Holder’s DOJ did so by signing on to a suit Lindley – a one-time 2008 Obama campaign staffer – filed in 2009, alleging, according to The Associated Press, that Gallup filed false claims with the federal government on contracts it had with the State Department, the U.S. Mint and other federal agencies.

In pointing out the similarities between how Gallup is being treated and how his organization was treated back in 2009, Fitton directed TheDC to an excerpt from his recent book “The Corruption Chronicles,” published on July 24 this year.

“In October 2009, one of our investigators received a call from a White House lawyer who wanted to express some concern about the accuracy of our press statement,” Fitton wrote in a July 21 column drawn from the book. “He invited us to a meeting at the White House.”

“I am convinced that the White House thought we’d be intimidated by getting such a phone call, although we saw through the tactic and happily accepted the invitation,” Fitton continued in the column. “On Oct. 21, 2009, my Judicial Watch colleagues and I met with senior White House officials led by Norm Eisen. During the meeting, Eisen offered to make some superficial accommodations to us on the visitor logs issue and encouraged us to publicly praise the Obama administration’s commitment to transparency. We were told that the White House would praise us in return.”

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