A Department of Justice lawsuit filed against Gallup Polling in August is becoming increasingly politicized as former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod has recently jumped in the fray adding partisan threats and complicating the lawsuit.
The DOJ joins former Gallup staffer, Michael Lindley, in allegations that Gallup intentionally over-billed the federal government for contract work, and this type of qui tam lawsuit empowers employees to report fraud with the incentive that they will receive some portion of the settlement.
However, the DOJ’s delayed entrance comes on the heels of tension between the White House and Gallup Polling. In April, Gallup released polling numbers that showed Governor Romney leading President Obama by a five-point margin and David Axelrod immediately responded to Gallup via Twitter, leveling charges that the poll did not utilize sound methodology.
Recently released emails show that Axelrod proceeded to aggressively pursue Gallup to send a representative to the White House and explain the methodology used in the poll. Gallup officials claim they felt threatened by request, and no meeting between the two parties took place.
The peculiar decision on behalf of the Department of Justice to enter a three year-old lawsuit during an election year leaves some pundits crying foul. Pollster and Fox News contributor Dick Morris has been an outspoken critic of the recent developments.
Morris weighed in on the situation in his daily video update on September 10 stating, “Gallup now has this huge thing hanging over its head: A civil lawsuit and the possibility of a criminal lawsuit. When they come out with data, now they’ve got to keep one eye on litigation and one eye on the election. This is absolute thuggery.” Morris admonishes news consumers to “focus on Rasmussen” and take extra consideration in regards to Gallup numbers.
A look at the most recent round of Gallup data shows Obama leading Romney 50 percent to 44 percent. The latest Rasmussen poll suggests a much tighter margin with Obama edging out Romney 48 percent to 45 percent. Whether the spread in the Gallup poll is a product of the recent developments is to be determined.
Although the lawsuit is pending, this is a watershed moment for Gallup as a leader in polling and its ability to conduct research without fear of retaliation.